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Richard WAGNER (1813–1883)
(The Twilight of the Gods)
Barkmin • Brenna • Shenyang • Halfvarson • Majeski • DeYoung • Bamberg Symphony Chorus • Latvian State Choir • Hong Kong Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra • van Zweden
Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods) is the epic fourth and final opera of Wagner’s great Ring cycle, with a plot that depicts the fall of heroes, gods, and the entire world. As ever with the Ring, the joys of love are all too fragile and fleeting, and the drama of Götterdämmerung revolves around dark and unsettling reversals of fortune and illusions of hope that synthesise thrilling and powerful grand opera traditions with Wagner’s revolutionary techniques. Containing all of the Ring’s essential elements, Götterdämmerung possesses a profoundly satisfying sense of inevitability that makes it both a towering climax and a unified summation of the Ring’s abundant variety.
Also available on Blu-ray Audio (NBD0075A)
Richard WAGNER (1813–1883)
Der Ring des Nibelungen
(The Ring of the Nibelung)
Goerne • S. O’Neill • DeYoung • Skelton • Cangelosi • Melton • Halfvarson • Barkmin • Shenyang • Hong Kong Philharmonic • van Zweden
Wagner’s visionary Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) was first performed as a cycle of four operas in 1876. Its mythic plot examines the relationship between love and earthly power through the agency of a ring which confers ultimate power on its bearer. One of the most sustained and remarkable achievements in all music, the tetralogy is performed by an all-star cast, conducted by the new music director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Jaap van Zweden, in performances that have been critically acclaimed worldwide for their ‘thrilling sense of drama’ (The Sunday Times, London).
Giachino ROSSINI (1792–1868)
Libretto by Cesare della Valle
Palazzi • Balbo • Süngü • Yaroyava • Mubenga • Camerata Bach Choir, Poznań • Virtuosi Brunenses • Fogliani
With its carefully planned yet complex dramatic structure and skilful transformation of a tale of heroic conflict between two enemies into a drama of impossible love, Maometto II is considered Rossini’s most radical and innovative opera. Against the background of the violent and cruel tumult of war as the Venetian colony of Negroponte is invaded and defeated by Sultan Mehmet II ‘the Conqueror’, in 1470, Rossini contrasts this clash of civilisations with the tender emotions of a doomed romance expressed in some of the most beautiful melodies he ever wrote. Heard here in its original Naples version – the more conventional 1822 Venice version with its overture and happy ending can be heard on 8.660149-51 – this is a movingly tragic drama in which the suicide of the main female role is not without a grim relevance even today.
Giachino ROSSINI (1792–1868)
Péchés de vieillesse, Vol. 11
(Sins of Old Age)
Chamber Music and Rarities, Vol. 4
L. Giordano • Scalabrini • Bridelli • Molinari • Luciano • Taddia • Prato • Marangoni
INCLUDES WORLD PREMIERE RECORDINGS
Volume 11 completes Alessandro Marangoni’s monumental project to record all 200 or so individual works comprising the Péchés de vieillesse or ‘Sins of Old Age’ (including some preliminary sketches). Highlights include all four duets from the collection, from the highly operatic Le gittane to Un sou, in which two beggars try to sell the collar of their dead dog. Rossini’s sacred or pious songs, such as the surprisingly intense Ave Maria (su due note) prompted Richard Wagner’s response, ‘the Parisian salons have turned into prayer cells… extraordinary!’ The closing piece of this edition is appropriately a setting by Rossini of his own name.
Wolfgang RIHM (b. 1952)
Lichtzwang (In memoriam Paul Celan)
Dritte Musik • Gedicht des Malers
Tianwa Yang • Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz • Mueller
The violin works of the leading German composer Wolfgang Rihm encompass almost his entire career and reflect the variety of his stylistic thinking. Lichtzwang, the earliest of his concertos, draws on chorale-like sequences and piercing outbursts alike in its memorialising of the writer Paul Celan. Dritte Musik begins almost imperceptibly before growing in intensity and eventually slipping beyond audibility. Defter and more subtle than the preceding pieces, Gedicht des Malers (‘Poem of the Painter’) was inspired by an imagined painting of the great Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe. As Rihm has written: ‘The soloist virtually embodies the painter’s brush as it moves over the canvas in sometimes faster and sometimes more deliberate ways.’
The Versailles Revolution
LULLY, J.B. • MUFFAT, G. • MARAIS, M.
Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra • B. Kuijken
The Italian-born violinist and dancer Jean-Baptiste Lully revolutionised music at the French court in the 17th century (see The Lully Effect, 8.573867). Not only did he transform ballet entertainments into a spectacular new genre, the tragédie lyrique, but he set new standards in orchestral playing – with him the ‘modern’ orchestra was born. The Suite from Roland exemplifies the majesty of his ouvertures, the beauty of his dance movements and the expressive depth of his chaconnes. Both Georg Muffat and Marin Marais were profoundly influenced by Lully, as their inventive suites show, and Muffat’s own preserved performance instructions have been closely followed on this recording.
Erik SATIE (1866–1925)
Uspud • Le Fils des étoiles
Satie’s personal eccentricities have never masked the fact that his music was both revolutionary and anticipatory of later artistic movements, principally Minimalism, Surrealism and the Theatre of the Absurd. His piano music offers a perfect distillation of these elements. The Allegro is his earliest known work, offering his first use of quotations, a favoured device. The extended pieces Le Fils des étoiles and uspud derive from incidental music, glorying in parodic and grotesque scenes, while his ‘humoristic’ phase of the 1910s is explored in Cinq Grimaces. Only Satie could attempt to fuse a fugue with a waltz, as he does in the Fugue-valse.
Alban BERG (1885–1935)
Libretto by Alban Berg after Woyzeck by Georg Büchner
Maltman • Westbroek • van Aken • Beekman • W. White • Dutch National Opera Chorus • Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra • M. Albrecht • Warlikowski
Based on real events and drawing on Georg Büchner’s revolutionary play, Alban Berg’s Wozzeck turns a grimly tragic narrative of violence and murder into one of the most powerful and original operas of the 20th century. Berg’s uncompromising portrayal of brutality and madness generated much controversy, but the significance of Wozzeck was soon recognised; its compelling lyrical expansiveness, large-scale dramatic gestures and remarkable musical structures producing music of overwhelming emotional intensity. The Financial Times declared this to be ‘a beautiful, moving, engrossing production… this is a consummate Wozzeck, blending clarity, lyricism, compassion and crushing force.’
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0081V)
Joseph HAYDN (1732–1809)
La Creation • The Creation
Eriksmoen • Schmutzhard • Mitterrutzner • accentus • Insula Orchestra • La Fura dels Baus • Equilbey • Padrissa
Haydn’s oratorio Die Schöpfung (‘The Creation’) is one of the greatest masterpieces in the repertoire. Its libretto was constructed by Gottfried van Swieten who took texts from the Book of Genesis, the Psalms and employed his own original poetry. In this radical and compelling staging by the ground-breaking Catalan theatre collective, La Fura dels Baus, and internationally acclaimed stage director Carlus Padrissa, the oratorio is seen through the prism of a stream of refugees expelled from Paradise. Stunning light projections encapsulate the stage space and incorporated philosophical and scientific perspectives make this truly an oratorio for our time.
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0080V)
A German Christmas
17th Century Music for the Time of Advent and Christmas
Margaretha Consort • Broekroelofs
The pieces on this album originate largely from the Christmette by Michael Praetorius. In addition, nativity hymns by a range of different composers from the same era have been compiled. In Lutheran style the compositions on this album include solo-pieces, choir arrangements, double-choral motets, instrumental pieces and of course the church organ repertoire. The listener can also hear pieces, which were not necessarily meant for Christmas, but fit the program very well. The function of some of the pieces is liturgical, like ‘Gloria’, ‘Our Father’ or the mighty Entrance-Prelude. Two other pieces are meditative moments about the name of Jesus.