june, 2012

By now I imagine most people will be aware of the sad departure of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau at the age of 86. He was simply the finest and most intelligent baritone singer of the second half of the 20th century, and he was a major musical presence for fifty years, whose recordings shaped the tastes of a generation. We will doubtless all remember him for different things; I treasure above all his astounding performances in the operatic lead roles of Busoni's Doktor Faust and Aribert Reimann's Lear, and his magisterial 1966 Winterreise with pianist Jorg Demus.

 

The Seraphim Trio, after a collective maternity break, start their 2012 season with concerts at the Ballarat Art Gallery on June 15 and at the Melbourne Recital Centre on June 16--both concerts are at 7pm. We have two double passes to give away--one for Ballarat and one for Melbourne--to be entered in the draw email websales@thomasmusic.com.au with Seraphim Trio/Ballarat or Seraphim Trio/Melbourne in the subject line by 12 noon, Saturday 9 June; please include your contact details. Even if you fail to win tickets you can still obtain a reduction for the Melbourne Concert through a special offer for Thomas' Music subscribers: enter the code THOMAS when buying tickets online via the Melbourne Recital Centre website to receive a discount of $5 off the ticket price. Also, in anticipation of the release in July of the In Search of Haydn DVD, Thomas' Music are pleased to be able to offer two copies of the double-DVD In Search of Mozart & In Search of Beethoven. To be entered in the draw email websales@thomasmusic.com.au by 5pm, 28 June with 'In Search of Haydn' in the subject line, and include your contact details.

 

Once upon a time, downloading music was seen as a big threat by the record companies, but more recently they have embraced this exciting new technology as a respectable alternative way of providing music for customers. If you have never done it before--and even if you have--Thomas' Music is offering free downloads of two tracks so that our customers may sample what is on offer. The first is Eric Whitacre's Sleep My Child, from his new CD Water Night; and the second is the extraordinary Yuja Wang playing Chopin – Valse in C sharp minor, from her Fantasia album.

 

A forthcoming concert of note is Denis Bouriakov, Principal Flute of the Metropolitan Opera New York, performing at the Australian National Academy of Music on June 6: 7pm; his program will include Villa-Lobos' Jet Whistle, among more serious fare by Bach, Demerssemann, Debussy and Saint-Saens. He presents a Masterclass on the previous day, June 5: 1pm, also at ANAM. Selby & Friends' Tour 3: Magical Miniatures visits Melbourne on 4 July: 7:30pm, at the BMW Edge Theatre in Federation Square, and includes music by Debussy, Bruch, Brahms, Schumann, and Faure, with a thin dusting of more modern fare.

 

NEOS and Col Legno are here! Pace the ABC 20th Century Top 100, twentieth- and twentyfirst-century music enthusiasts need look no further. Between them, and Kairos, these labels contain much of the very best of the most adventurous music of the last sixty years. But be warned--this music is no-holds-barred! Not for the faint-hearted. The same could be said for the 20th Century re-release series from Decca/Deutsche Grammophon, which includes such classics as Birtwistle's Triumph of Time, Boulez conducting Varese and Stockhausen's colossal Gruppen.

 

We have all heard of Herbert von Karajan, and probably own the odd recording of his, with the orchestra he made unique, the Berlin Philharmonic. Now, Deutsche Grammophon have released a truly deluxe box set, containing all his 1960s DG recordings (except the operas)--fully 82 CDs, at the extremely attractive price of $237. The composers represented range from the obvious Beethoven, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky, to Bartok, Ravel, and Honegger. Truly a self-recommending compendium.

 

Once upon a time there was a label called Collins Classics which specialised in releasing recordings of outstanding recent British music, from Butterworth songs to Birtwistle's Gawain opera. And then, suddenly Collins went extinct, and their entire catalogue diappeared from view. Many of their titles have been reissued on the enterprising Naxos label, but conspicuous by their absence were the complete set of Symphonies, both written and conducted by Master of the Queen's Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies--or 'Max' as he is universally known. Now, finally, these excellent (if challenging) works have started to reappear on Naxos; Symphonies 1 & 2 are already out, with other, lighter, works of Max as fillers.

 

Sometimes a recording will appear that defies categorisation or even comparison. The Dublin Drag Orchestra have been described as "combining high theatrics with profound and virtuosic performances"; the CD cover illustrates the former and the music confirms the latter. They are primarily an Early Music ensemble, and this debut double-CD presents two completely unrelated musical programs, one of English music of the late Renaissance--Dowland, both of the Lawes, Coperario, Ward and ...Hank Williams Snr?--and the other of music of 17th Century Mexico, plus a song with words by Frida Kahlo. Eccentric, certainly; colourful, undoubtedly; provocative, surely not in our enlightened times. Musical? Without question. One can only hope they will tour.

regards,
Chris Dench More about chris
Melody Gardot
3mbs Cds of the week

Week one: bumped from last month because of the 3MBS Radiothon, Magdalena Kozena's new CD with husband Sir Simon Rattle is titled Love and Longing; it features music by Ravel, Dvorak, and Mahler.

Week two: Silfra is an unusual release from Deutsche Grammophon--brilliant violinist Hilary Hahn and collaborator Hauschka have completed a "two-year-long exploratory improvisation project" for violin and prepared piano.

Week three: brilliant young Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel offers his own distinctive reading of Beethoven's landmark Third Symphony, the Eroica.

Week four: 1612 Italian Vespers--after the success of their recording of Striggio's 40-voice Mass (that spurred Tallis to write Spem in alium), i Fagiolini have unearthed more unfamiliar, but glorious, works from the early seventeenth century.

 
$24.95 AUD
 
$19.95 AUD
Love And Longing - Ravel / Dvorak / Mahler
 
Silfra - With Hauschka
Magdalena Kozena
 
Hilary Hahn
Magdalena Kozenas silken mezzo delivers definitive interpretations ... See More
 
Silfra 12 evocative, phenomenally intriguing tracks that span a ... See More
 
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$28.00 AUD
1612 Italian Vespers
 
Beethoven Symphony 3/ Prometheus Ov
I Fagiolini
 
Gustavo Dudamel
Robert Hollingworth (Conductor)

I ... See More
 
Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolvar Orchestra bring their unique ... See More
Victorian Opera news
 
 
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Elliott Carter What Next?/ Asko Concerto
 
Falla El Retablo De Maese Pedro & El Amor Brujo
 
Mozart Marriage Of Figaro
Peter Eotvos
 
Josep Pons
 
Rene Jacobs
Dean Elzinga (Performer)
Elliott Carter (Composer)
Peter ... See More
 
El retablo de maese Pedro ( Master Peter's Puppet Show) is a ... See More
 
Ren Jacobs conducts one of the refreshing versions of Figaro to ... See More

 

Thomas’ and The Victorian Opera have now joined forces to bring you the latest news from Melbourne’s opera scene. The Victorian Opera will be inviting us backstage to talk to both the cast and backstage team about their latest Melbourne production. There will also be ticket giveaways and CD and DVD offers. So stay tuned!

CDs of the month
 
 
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1612 Italian Vespers
 
Silfra - With Hauschka
 
Beethoven Symphony 3/ Prometheus Ov
I Fagiolini
 
Hilary Hahn
 
Gustavo Dudamel
Robert Hollingworth (Conductor)

I ... See More
 
Silfra 12 evocative, phenomenally intriguing tracks that span a ... See More
 
Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolvar Orchestra bring their unique ... See More
Thomas` Recommends
 
 
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$48.50 AUD
 
$499.00 AUD
Motion Of The Heart & Viva Frida
 
Julian Yu Young Persons Guide To Composition 2cd
 
Complete Bach Edition 153cd & 1 Dvd
Dublin Drag Orchestr
 
Ami Fujiwara
 
Harnoncourt Etc
Motion of the Heart
Motion of the Heart features a selection of ... See More
 
Variations on the theme of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' for ... See More
 
Teldecs COMPLETE BACH Edition, 153 CDs in 12 volumes comprising ... See More
 
 
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$237.00 AUD
 
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Latino
 
Karajan 1960s Complete 82cd
 
The Good The Bad And The Awkward
Milos Karadaglic
 
Herbert Von Karajan
 
Sally Whitwell
Latino includes new arrangements for solo guitar and string orchestra ... See More
 
An 82-CD box set of Karajans complete Deutsche Grammophon ... See More
 
Following the success of Mad Rush: the Piano Music of Philip Glass, ... See More
 
 
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Kirsten Flagstad Edition The Decca Recitals 10cd
 
Debussy Piano Music 4cd
 
Massenet Edition 24cd
Kirsten Flagstad
 
Philippe Cassard
 
Various
7 December 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Kirsten ... See More
 
2012 marks the 150th anniversary of Claude Debussy's birth. On this ... See More
 
13 August 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Jules ... See More
 
 
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Purcell Ayres For The Theatre
 
Meditation Best Of Massenet
 
Kalkadungu Music For Didgeridu And Orchestra
Tafelmusik
 
Various
 
William Barton
"Tafelmusik are surely one of the best-equipped baroque orchestras in ... See More
 
Jules Massenet, who died 100 years ago in 1912, was a French composer ... See More
 
Works for Didjeridu & Orchestra
William Barton (didjeridu) & ... See More
 
 
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Art Of Renee Fleming - Incl Mariettas Lied
 
Maxwell Davies Symphony 1/ Mavis In Las Vegas
 
Maxwell Davies Symphony 2/ St Thomas Wake
Renee Fleming
 
Maxwell Davies
 
Maxwell Davies
The Art of Rene Fleming brings together 18 defining tracks spanning ... See More
 
Peter Maxwell Daviess visionary music has gained him a knighthood, ... See More
 
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies Second Symphony is his Sea ... See More
 
 
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Bach Arranged For Mandolin
 
Verdi Il Trovatore Dvd Met Production
 
Puccini La Fanciulla Del West Dvd
Avi Avital
 
Alvarez / Armiliato
 
Deborah Voigt
Recognized by The New York Times for his "exquisitely sensitive ... See More
 
lvarez made a stalwart, passionate, masculine figure ... See More
 
Deborah Voigt stars in the title role of Puccini's wild west opera - ... See More
 
 
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Jenkins The Peacemakers
 
Reimaginings - Zoe Black
 
Weinberg The Passenger Dvd
Karl Jenkins
 
Joe Chindamo
 
Teodor Currentzis
Lucy Crowe (soprano), Chloe Hanslip (violin), Davy Spillane (Uilleann ... See More
 
Joe Chindamo is an internationally acclaimed pianist, composer and ... See More
 
The Passenger is based on the eponymous novel by the Polish writer ... See More
Collectors Corner
 
 
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Lalo Concerto Russe Piano Concerto
 
Koechlin Magician Orchestrator Debussy Etc
 
Jean Mouton Missa Tu Es Petrus Nesciens Mater
Volondat Kantorow
 
Holliger
 
Brabant Ensemble
Jean-Jacques Kantorow follows his critically acclaimed recording of ... See More
 
The latest release in this globally acclaimed series features ... See More
 
acknowledged but more rarely recorded, who wrote a body of music ... See More
 
 
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Britten War Requiem - Bostridge Keenlyside
 
Puccini Trittico Dvd Tabarro Suor Angelica Giann
 
Schubert Piano Trio 1 & 2 Arpeggione Sonata Dvd
Noseda
 
Pappano 2011
 
Andras Schiff
Premiered 50 years ago on 30 May 1962, the 'War Requiem' was ... See More
 
This is The Royal Operas first complete presentation of ... See More
 
Andrs Schiff, Yuuko Shiokawa and Mikls Pernyi play the Schubert ... See More

I have always loved the music of the eccentric Charles Koechlin, and the latest Hanssler release in their Koechlin series draws attention to his truly astounding abilities as an orchestrator, not just of his own music, but Debussy's Khamma, Faure's Pelleas et Melisande, Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy, and Chabrier's Bourree Fantasque. Also in this month's cornucopia are a live recording of Britten's masterpiece, the War Requiem, conducted by Giovanni Noseda, who brings Italian flair to this large-scale lament, and features singers Ian Bostridge and Simon Keenlyside in the Wilfred Owen settings; Puccini's marvellous Trittico--melodrama il Tabarro, weepie Suor Angelica, and comedy Gianni Schicchi--is not well-enough represented on DVD, and the new Opus Arte version with Pappano is a welcome release; also on DVD is a Schubert chamber music program with the two Piano Trios and the lovely Arpeggione Sonata, featuring pianist Andras Schiff. And there's more: Lalo's Piano Concerto and Concerto Russe (effectively a "Russian" equivalent to the Symphonie Espagnole) for Violin on a new BIS CD; and early music specialists the Brabant Ensemble performing the Missa Tu Es Petrus by Jean Mouton, a composer perhaps even more distinctive than his near-contemporary, Josquin.

Eloquence
 
 
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Purcell Anthems
 
Bach Cantatas 10/ 51/ 80/ 140/ 202 - Jesu Joy
 
Britten Choral Works Missa Brevis
St Johns/ Guest
 
Karl Munchinger
 
Louis Halsey Singers
Purcell wrote so much in so many different spheres of musical ... See More
 
Karl Mnchinger recorded all the major orchestral and choral pieces ... See More
 
Throughout Brittens public career as the leading opera and song ... See More
 
 
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Early One Morning - Parry Delius Elgar
 
Walton Belshazzars Feast Choral Works Songs
 
Britten Rarities Canticle Ii Charm Of Lullabies
Louis Halsey Singers
 
Solti Preston Harper
 
Pears Britten
During the 1960s, Louis Halsey, together with the Elizabethan Singers ... See More
 
This 2CD set reveals two sides of Walton, the composer of music for ... See More
 
  
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Schubert Partsongs Auf Dem Strom Der Hirt Auf
  
Halsey Tear Danco
  
Two distinguished soloists soprano Suzanne Danco and tenor Robert ... See More
  

With jubilee celebrations in the air – and the earlier release of our Eloquence CD JubileeMusic for British Royal Occasions – it’s fitting to continue the British theme and this month’s releases unearth some delicious treasures from the Argo catalogue in the main. Three of George Guest’s gorgeous Purcell albums of Anthems are combined on a double CD. Louis Halsey who pioneered rare or first recordings of so much choral music is represented on three releases. Early One Morning brings together three Argo LPs  of music by Delius, Elgar, Parry, Stanford and a record of folk-song arrangements. He then conducts a host of Britten choral works; and for the first time, his delightful LP of Schubert part-songs is released, the shortish playing time completed with the two ‘obbligato’ Lieder – Auf dem Strom and Der Hirt auf dem Felsen. The latter is sung by Suzanne Danco, so it made sense to complete the record with first-on-CD releases of a quartet of popular Schubert Lieder. Danco is also soprano soloist on a 2CD set that brings together all of Karl Münchinger’s Bach Cantata recordings for Decca, two of these cantatas being released on CD for the first time. And finally a CD that’s been in the works for three years…Britten Rarities. The source material itself is extremely rare and virtually every recording represented here is, in its LP/EP format, a collector’s item. The all-vocal program opens with Voices for Today which Britten wrote to mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. His devotion to excellent music for children is represented by a collection of songs, including five from Friday Afternoons and sung by the boy alto John Hahessy. It was Hahessy who was chosen over Norma Procter to sing the alto part in Britten’s Canticle II Abraham and Isaac. The earlier Procter/Pears/Britten version, recorded in 1957 but not released at the time in favour of the Hahessy recording; it is included on this collection. In later years, it was perhaps inevitable that other British singers would be compared with those who created and inspired Britten’s work, notably Ferrier, particularly after her early death. Pamela Bowden was one of those singers: she studied with Ferrier’s teacher, Roy Henderson, in London, and was hailed as the singer’s successor. She is represented by A Charm of Lullabies and it seemed sensible to include the remainder of the music on her original EP – two songs by Purcell – as bonus tracks for this release. A rare spoken-word appearance is made by author (and speaker) T.H. White, who reads an extract from his book The Sword in the Stone to an accompaniment of Britten’s music. Some of the music was mysteriously wiped from the original master tapes, so had to be restored from archival copies of EPs, but so expertly is it done that you’d barely notice!

Jazz & world news
 
 
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The Absence
 
301 - Est
 
Seeds From The Underground
Melody Gardot
 
Esbjorn Svensson
 
Kenny Garrett
 
 
 
 
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Sound Travels
 
Original Album Series 5cd
 
Conjuror Poems By Allan Browne Book & Cd
Jack Dejohnette
 
Charles Mingus
 
Allan Browne
 
 
Allan Brownes first collection of poetry reveals a strikingly ... See More
 
 
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Collected Works Volume Two
 
Stepping Between The Shadows
 
Allan Browne
 
Alister Spence
 
Allan Browne: drums.
A follow up to the 2003 Australian Jazz Bell ... See More
 
This co-improvisation journey was recorded live in concert at The ... See More
 

Melody Gardot has established herself as rather more than just another pop-turned-jazz singer. Her new CD, the Absence, has a gentle, Latin-flavoured, and slightly oblique charm that lingers in one's memory. An enchanting release.

 

The Warners' Original Album series continues to satisfy. After 5-CD sets by Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, John McLaughlin, Sergio Mendes, and a host of others, it is a treat to be able to buy some of Charles Mingus'  most engaging albums in a single, cheap, package. Included are the famous Pithecanthropus Erectus, the Clown, Oh Yeah, Tonight at Noon, and Blues & Roots. Sounds indispensible to me...

 

After the tragic death of Esbjorn Svensson in a scuba accident, no-one was expecting a new CD from his group E.S.T. to surface, but it turns out that the 2008 Leucocyte sessions generated more than enough material for that fierce album, and also supplied the music for this new release, 301--celebrating the Sydney studio in which both albums were recorded. Word is that this material is somewhat gentler than the hard-edged Leucocyte.

 

Kenny Garrett has an extraordinary pedigree, having played sax with Duke Ellington, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Miles Davis, the Chick Corea & John McLaughlin Five Peace Band, and many others. His new release, Seeds from the Underground, is bound to be special.

 

Drummer Jack DeJohnette's musical career is if anything even more eminent than Kenny Garrett's, including stints with bandleaders as varied as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Sun Ra, Thelonious Monk, Chet Baker, George Benson, Herbie Hancock, and Abbey Lincoln, and perhaps most famously in the famous Keith Jarrett Trio, with bassist Gary Peacock. He too recently released a new CD: Sound Travels, on which he is more than ably assisted by such luminaries as Esperanza Spalding, jazz-rocker Bruce Hornsby, Bobby McFerrin, and Ambrose Akinmusire.

MSO News
$19.95 AUD
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Beethoven Symphony 5 & 7
Carlos Kleiber
In Carlos Kleiber's hands the first movement of the Fifth is ... See More

If you haven't already got tickets, make haste! It is almost here: after the great success of his first Ears Wide Open event, Richard Gill returns to Melbourne Town Hall with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on June 6 at 6:30pm to give us his unique and penetrating insights into Beethoven's celebrated Fifth Symphony. And for that matter, it would do no harm to pencil a gap into your schedule for his third such event, on November 28, this time discussing Mozart's Symphony 40.

 

June is an exciting and busy month for the MSO; On June 14 & 15 (both at 8pm) Emma Matthews and Julian Rachlin are the soloists in a particularly attractive program  of Shostakovich's brooding First Violin Concerto and Mahler's rustic Fourth Symphony. Also, on June 22 (7:30) and 25 (6:30) the organ joins the orchestra in Poulenc's popular Organ Concerto; the program is completed by Brahms amiable Second Symphony, and an orchestration by conductor Sir Andrew Davis of Bach's monumental Passacaglia. Extrovert organ virtuoso Cameron Carpenter plays the solo part.

 

A One-Night Only special event occurs on June 27, at 8pm: legendary soprano Deborah Voigt visits Melbourne and regales us with excerpts from Wagner's die Walkure and Tristan, and Strauss' Salome and der Rosenkavalier. We often say it, but this is truly one not to be missed.

 

And finally, it is Education Week at the MSO. From Tuesday 5 to Saturday 9 June the MSO opens its doors to the community. To find out more visit the MSO website.

Limelight Magazine
$29.95 AUD
Grieg Music For String Orchestra
Tognetti/ Aust Chamb
On this disc, Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra ... See More

In the new and improved Limelight, re-launched for the June issue, Richard Tognetti is the cover star in a no-holds-barred interview. And we settle the age-old debate: which city is the cultural capital of Australia – Melbourne or Sydney? Find out in our video, which has got tongues wagging! You can even show a bit of Melbournian civic pride and vote in our poll (just scroll down on the Limelight  homepage).

 

Listen to our Editor’s Choices

Check out the new Limelight Classical Top 20 Chart
 

Staff Reviews
$24.95 AUD
The Absence
Melody Gardot
THE ABSENCE

9/10

Melody Gardot has established herself as rather more than just another pop-turned-jazz singer. Her new CD, the Absence, has a gentle, Latin-flavoured, and slightly oblique charm that lingers in one's memory. An enchanting release.

$48.50 AUD
Metastasio L Olimpiade - The Opera
Venice Baroque Orch
In the eighteenth century, 1,300 years after the last Olympic Games ... See More
METASTASIO L OLIMPIADE - THE OPERA

9/10

Opera composers and impresarios have always relied on significant occasions as a source of income and inspiration, so please don’t dismiss this recording of L’Olimpiade in an Olympic year as a cynical marketing exercise. Far from being thrown together by a 17 year old intern let loose in the recording company’s archives and told to find anything classical with the word ‘Olympic’ in it, this is a pasticcio in the most honourable sense of the word. In tandem with a pan-European concert tour, this recording brings together a team of baroque specialists and the Venice Baroque Orchestra to present all 21 arias and three choruses of L’Olimpiade, the most popular libretto of opera seria’s most esteemed librettist, Metastasio.

The arias have been cherrypicked from no less than 16 composers’ settings of the work, from the first, Caldara, in 1733, to Paisiello in 1786. (Donizetti also set it, as late as 1817). Most get an aria each, a few get two, and Hasse is represented with three arias and two choruses. Leonardo Leo gets the overture. Along with Myslivicek, Vivaldi, Pergolesi, Cherubini and Cimarosa, there are lesser known names, such as Sarti, Perez and Gassmann.

In performance, 18th century opera seria was commonly a patchwork: singers would take their preferred arias from one opera to the next and impresarios would commission new arias to freshen up works they were reviving, so this project is very much in the tradition. Here in the age of recording, this pasticcio approach also provides welcome relief from the genius in a vacuum syndrome, giving us a sense of composers’ shared musical milieu as much as their individuality. And if you’re familiar with other settings of these arias, through naïve’s complete recording of Vivaldi’s L’Olimpiade, for example, or the recital discs of Philippe Jaroussky, Simone Kermes and others, you’ll enjoy the opportunity to compare settings.

Olympian virtues are of course perfect fodder for baroque bravura, and mezzo Romina Basso sets the pace in a thoroughbred delivery of Hasse’s setting for the heroic opening aria, Superbo di me stessa. Well known baroque specialists Karina Gauvin and Nicholas Spanos are also in excellent form throughout, and a new name to me, soprano Ruth Rosique, is one to look out for. Her intonation is faultless, she navigates the twists and turns of a Caldara aria impeccably and in the coloratura of Leo’s setting of Tu me da me dividi, her high-flying soprano is as bracing as a face full of iced water.

The music has been chosen for the orchestra as much as the singers and the Venice Baroque makes the most of some wonderful writing, providing texture, clarity, bite, and rhythmic alertness at every turn. Beautifully packaged and with excellent booklet notes, this is a novel project commendably realised.

Some recordings featuring other settings of these arias:

Vivaldi: L’Olimpiade (complete opera) naive

Simone Kermes: Colori d’Amore (Sony)--Fiamme ignota in a setting by Caldara

Simone Kermes: Lava (dhm)--Tu me da me dividi in a setting by Pergolesi

Philippe Jaroussky –Caldara in Vienna (Virgin)--Lo seguitai felice and Mentre dormi amor fomenti in settings by Caldara

--Guest reviewer Max McLean has had a long association with Thomas’ Music. He previously was a reviewer for 24 Hours magazine.

$45.00 AUD
Handel Theodora Lorraine Hunt Dawn Upshaw
Daniels Christie
Here for the first time on CD is Glyndebournes acclaimed 1996 ... See More
HANDEL THEODORA LORRAINE HUNT DAWN UPSHAW

9/10

Putting ‘RECORDED LIVE’ on an opera CD can be a bit like putting ‘PICKED FRESH’ on a packet of frozen beans – given the condition the contents are in by the time you get your hands on them, who cares? But I’m glad to say this live recording of Handel’s oratorio Theodora is a best of both worlds affair that actually manages to capture a celebrated night in the opera house with all the freshness and clarity of studio quality sound.

The latest in a series of audio releases documenting outstanding Glyndebourne productions, this is the recording of a widely praised production of Theodora directed by Peter Sellars that has long been available on DVD. His staging is a love-it-or-hate-it affair, so this audio-only version will please many.

As the cover art suggests, the recording’s main drawcard is the performance of the late Lorraine Hunt. A singer with a vocal surety that for many brings Janet Baker to mind, Hunt brought a credibility to Handel’s biblical dramas, the pious revellings of which can all too easily bring Cecil B de Mille to mind.

The always engaging blogger www.operachic.com claims that Hunt had to be experienced live to be fully appreciated, but this recording is a great testament to the conviction, intelligence and sheer beauty of her singing. A cadenza in the middle of ‘As with rosy steps the morn’ is a perfect example: neither showy nor prim, emotionally compelling, perfectly judged.

But the cast is uniformly excellent. Dawn Upshaw cuts through in the title role with her particular gift for articulation, and as sung by countertenor David Daniels, fellow martyr Didymus sounds like he’s already died and gone to heaven. Tenor Richard Crofts is equally fresh-voiced as the Roman martyr’s friend Septimius. A small-scaled chorus and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under William Christie achieve both gravitas and delicacy.

There are now a number of beautifully sung and played historically informed recordings of the Handel oratorios available. But few if any can match this one for dramatic conviction and for building and sustaining emotion. Highly recommended

--Guest reviewer Max McLean has had a long association with Thomas’ Music. He was previously a reviewer for 24 Hours magazine.

$19.95 AUD
Jenkins The Peacemakers
Karl Jenkins
Lucy Crowe (soprano), Chloe Hanslip (violin), Davy Spillane (Uilleann ... See More
JENKINS THE PEACEMAKERS

Karl Jenkins CBE has recently been declared the most performed living composer. His "The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace" has struck a chord with many people. Now this work "The Peacemakers" has arrived.

The text has been drawn from the likes of Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Shelley and others, also from a variety of religions. I particularly liked the 'Fanfara' movement as the chorus sings the word peace in various languages with emphatic rhythm. There are some lovely oriental flute passages in 'Inner Peace', some celtic flavouring with a beautiful Amen in 'Healing Light', and a lyrical violin for 'Solitude'. With choruses delicate and rousing, The Peacemakers should strike many more chords. Karl Jenkins knows how to write a tune.  Christine Hinton 2012