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Tabea Zimmermann

Thursday, June 30, 2016


Iron Tongue of Midnight

May 13

Additional Thoughts on the Met, James Levine, and YN-S

Iron Tongue of MidnightLast month, when James Levine's retirement was finally announced by the Met, Anthony Tommasini and Alex Ross had a mind-meld on one matter. Alex Ross in The New Yorker: The chief failing of the Levine era at the Met was the company’s sparse, spotty record with contemporary opera. Not until 1991 did Levine get around to presenting a world première, in the form of John Corigliano’s “The Ghosts of Versailles.” That piece has found a footing in the American repertory, but its successors at the Met—Philip Glass’s “The Voyage,” John Harbison’s “The Great Gatsby,” Tobias Picker’s “An American Tragedy,” and Tan Dun’s “The First Emperor”—are a rather miscellaneous group. Levine’s apparent lack of enthusiasm for such major opera composers as John Adams, Thomas Adès, and Kaija Saariaho seemed to delay their progress toward the Met. Latter-day masterpieces like Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s “Die Soldaten,” Ligeti’s “Le Grand Macabre,” and Messiaen’s “Saint François d’Assise” have gone unheard there.Anthony Tommasini in the Times: Still, over the years Mr. Levine conceded that he had not done enough to make the Met a vibrant space for new opera. He described the company as a big, hard-to-push institution, which in many ways it is. Yet in 2013, I was dismayed to hear him address this topic on “Charlie Rose.” Some people, Mr. Levine said, have argued that the Met should present a new opera every year. To that he answered, “I wish I really thought there was a new opera good enough for the Met every year.”That last remark...it is very sad that what comes to mind as a response is "Jimmy, you needed to get out more." There is no paucity of new operas good enough for the Met. The Met should have been commissioning the great composers of our day and building a repertory of great works. This brings us to Zachary Woolfe's article in the Times about his interview with Yannick Nézhet-Séguin, music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra and widely rumored to be the prime candidate to succeed Levine. First, there's the dismaying line about Philly being among the most conservative American orchestras: one longs for the days of Leopold Stokowski and his unending thirst for the new. Just look up the number of important early 20th c. works that got their first US performances under him. Then there's this: When I asked him, though, which underappreciated composers, works or corners of the repertory he might seek to champion — the Nézet-Séguin equivalents of Mr. Levine’s advocacy for Berg, marginalized Mozart or “Moses und Aron” — he seemed slightly at a loss.“It’s still a bit at the beginning,” he said of his career. “I’m still at the stage when I enjoy so much broadening my repertory and the orchestra’s. If someone was someday to say, ‘Yannick has helped bring back this composer,’ I’m not sure who it would be.”I love their operas, but it's sad that Woolfe has to reach for Berg, Mozart, and Schoenberg to find Levine's advocacy for the new and unusual, considering how long Berg and Schoenberg have been gone. And unfortunately, if it is to be YN-S at the Met, don't expect heaps of commissions or the sudden prominence of, say, Schreker. For that, the Met ought to hire my favorite candidate, James Conlon.

parterre box

May 9

Forever young

Perhaps the most admirable project of Dominique Meyer’s Intendanz at Wiener Staatsoper is the traversal of the operas of Leos Janancek, many of which are company premieres and are being sung in Czech for the first time. The latest installment is the composer’s penultimate masterpiece, Vec Makropulos, starring Laura Aiken. Aiken, a American whose prolific 25 year career has been centered in Europe, has been best known for high-flying coloratura roles such as the Queen of the Night and Zerbinetta, and was a spectacular Lulu. A champion of 20th century and contemporary opera, her performance as Marie in Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten at the 2012 Salzburger Festspiele (available on DVD) ranks as one of the most astounding performances by a singing actress I have ever witnessed. As Emily Marty/Elina Makropulos/Eugenia Montez/Ekaterina Myshkin/Ellian McGregor among others, Aiken is supported by Slovakian tenor ?udovít Ludha and ensemble members of Wiener Staatsoper including veterans Wolfgang Bankl and Heinz Zednik, now 76, who rose to international prominence with his portrayal as Mime in the Pierre Boulez/Patrice Chéreau Ring at Bayreuth. Leoš Janá?ek: Vec Makropulos Wiener Staatsoper Jakub Hr?ša, conductor 13 December 2015 Emilia Marty – Laura Aiken Albert Gregor – ?udovít Ludha Dr. Kolenatý – Wolfgang Bankl Vitek – Thomas Ebenstein Krista – Margarita Gritskova Jaroslav Prus – Markus Marquardt Janek Prus – Carlos Osuna Hauk-Šendorf – Heinz Zednik A stage technician – Marcus Pelz A cleaning woman – Aura Twarowska A chambermaid – Ilseyar Khayrullova




Tribuna musical

April 22

Modern Philharmonic versus good old Vienna

The second concert of the subscription series of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic at the Colón gave us three contrasting views of the ways of organized sound before and after World War II. The following day was the inauguration of Nuova Harmonia´s season at the refurbished Coliseo in a programme of Viennese music . It was a pleasure to witness the debut of Chinese conductor Zhang Guoyong. A disciple of Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, he is at 51 the Artistic Director of the Shanghai Opera (he was born in that splendid city). The concert was short (just an hour) but it included two premières and a very tough symphony rarely done: a lot of music to study for the Phil´s players. You may remember that last year the Phil included some Chinese music and that I wasn´t enthusiastic: China is enormously separated by their millenary culture from us Occidentals, and their own traditional orchestra has very little to do with our symphony orchestra. The adaptation of their pentatonic tunes to our culture felt artificial and the brilliant orchestration had little distinctive touches. Yuankai Bao was born in 1946 and his succinct Chinese Suite (just 12 minutes) is certainly pleasant; the titles of the pieces are quite representative of the Chinese trend of extolling Nature: Happy sunrise; Going to West Gate; Song of Riddles; and Dialogue of Flowers. To my ears it sounded tonal, rather than pentatonal; the music veered between showy and sentimental. It was clear from the start that Zhang Guoyong dominates his profession thoroughly, and the Phil responded well. Bernd Alois Zimmermann had a short life; born in 1918, he committed suicide in 1970. He is famous in Europe for his enormously complex opera "Die Soldaten" ("The Soldiers") and this year we will have it on the Colón stage for the first time; quite a challenge, perhaps the première of the year. The brief Concerto (rather a Concertino, 15 minutes) for oboe and small orchestra is dated 1952. Although based on the twelve-tone technique, the first movement pays homage to Stravinsky and later there´s some Bartokian touches. Tough music but well wrought. The solo part has virtuosic hurdles , negotiated with firmness by Néstor Garrote, the Phil´s first desk. The orchestral contribution sounded accurate under the clear gestures of the conductor. Last year the revival of Prokofiev´s opera "The Angel of Fire" produced a deep impact in at least a section of the audience for its powerful depiction of hysteria and massive possession. Now we heard its perfect foil: his Third Symphony (1928) is based on material from the opera and has obsessive tension during most of it, though the second movement also offers some minutes of persuasive lyricism. Machinistic, dissonant, orchestrated with memorable punch, it may lack cohesion but it is music of strong personal seal. Zhang Guoyong demonstrated here that he has the control and intelligence to make sense out of this seething musical tornado, and the Phil responded well, especially the first trumpet. The Cappella Istropolitana is the Chamber Orchestra of Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, just an hour away from Vienna. Istropolitana means "city on the banks of the river" (the Danube). Born in 1983, the Cappella is an efficient organism; it has recorded 120 CDs and visited us once. Its concertino-conductor is Robert Marecek, a longtime member. Mezzosoprano Angelika Kirchschlager, a native of Salzburg, graduated at the Vienna Academy in 1984; she also visited us some years ago. First Part, Franz Schubert: his youthful Third Symphony and four Lieder in string ensemble arrangements. The composer´s first six symphonies are fresh, personal and accomplished. The performance we witnessed was charming and accurate, 29 players responding easily to Marecek´s intermittent gestures (he also played). The Lieder were a wrong decision from both conductor and singer. They sound wonderful in their original form with piano; the arrangements were mediocre and uncredited. Two of the songs are for men: "Der Lindenbaum" ("The linden tree") from " Winterreise"; and the dramatic "Erlkönig" ("King of the alders"). "Im Frühling" ("In Spring") and of course the Ave Maria, were well chosen (by the way, the Ave Maria is Ellen´s third song from Scott´s "The Lady of the Lake" translated into German, not a sacred song!). This singer has serious limitations: although her high range is good, she loses color and volume as the voice goes to lower regions; and as an interpreter she is in this repertoire rather nondescript. The Second Part showed her in much more congenial circumstances: not only she understands operetta but her voice was well suited to the pieces and she also has a humorous acting gift, as demonstrated in the "Schwips-Lied" ("Drunken Song") from Johann Strauss II´s "A night in Venice". She was also good in two Robert Stolz songs, one from his operetta "Der Favorit", and the other typically Viennese, "On the Prater the trees are flourishing again", and in Heuberger´s delicious "Ins Chambre séparée" (from "The Opera Ball"). The Orlofsky aria from Johann Strauss II´s "The Bat" was no more than correct, but Sieczynski´s plangent song "Vienna, Vienna, only you" was mellifluous. The encore was an acceptable "Vilja Song" from Lehár´s "The Merry Widow". Apart from accompanying her very well, the Cappella gave us fine interpretations of two Johann Strauss II´s standards: the Overture to "The Bat" and the lovely waltz "Viennese blood"; the players really have the ideal give-and-take. For Buenos Aires Herald

Meeting in Music

March 13

The Odd Couple #2

It is known that Chopin's musical thoughts, during his last weeks of life, were pervaded by Mozart, and that the Requiem was performed at Chopin's funeral at La Madeleine in October 1849. Personally, I've often found a special affinity, sometimes even formal, between the great Austrian master and the Polish - a natural revolutionary spirit, a wistfully tinged harmonic tension encased in elegant, soothing tempo structures. Another great Sunday morning with The Odd Couple. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Clarinet Concerto K. 622 in A Clarinet Quintet K. 581 in A Benny Goodman, Clarinet Budapest String Quartet Boston Symphony Orchestra Charles Munch RCA RD85275 (1956) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Clarinet Concerto K. 622 in A Sinfonia Concertante K. 297b in E-Flat Major Sabine Meyer, Clarinet; Diethelm Jonas, Oboe Sergio Azzolini, Bassoon; Bruno Schneider, Horn Staatskapelle Dresden Hans Vonk EMI 66949 (1990) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Flute and Harp Concerto K. 299 in C Flute Concerto No. 1 K. 313 in G Flute Concerto No. 2 K. 314 in D Emmanuel Pahud, Flute Marie-Pierre Langlamet, Harp Berliner Philharmoniker Claudio Abbado EMI 5 57114-2 (1996) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Piano Concerto No. 13 K. 415 in C Piano Concerto No. 15 K. 450 in B-Flat Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Piano NDR-Sinfonieorchester Hamburg Cord Garben DGG 429 353-2 (1990)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Piano Concerto No. 17 K. 453 in G Major Piano Concerto No. 20 K. 466 in D Minor Robert Levin, Piano The Academy of Ancient Music Christopher Hogwood L'Oiseau-Lyre455 607-2 (1996)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Piano Concerto No. 14 K. 449 in E-Flat Major Piano Concerto No. 26 K. 537 in D Major 'Coronation' Maria João Pires, Piano Wiener Philharmoniker Claudio Abbado DGG 437 529-2 (1992)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Piano Concerto No. 17 K. 453 in G Major Piano Concerto No. 21 K. 467 in C Major Maria João Pires, Piano Chamber Orchestra of Europe Claudio Abbado DGG 439 941-2 (1995)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 K. 466 in D Minor Piano Concerto No. 21 K. 467 in C Major András Schiff, Piano Camerata Academica Salzburg Sándor Végh Decca 430 510-2 (1989)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Piano Concerto No. 21 K. 467 in C Major Piano Concerto No. 27 K. 595 in B-Flat Major Chamber Orchestra of EuropeMurray Perahia Sony SK 46 485 (1990)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart The Piano Sonatas Mitsuko Uchida, PianoPhilips 468 356-2 (1983/1987)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Serenata K. 361 in B-Flat 'Gran Partita' Academy of St. Martin-in-the-FieldsNeville Marriner Philips 412 726-2 (1984)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Serenata K. 361 in B-Flat 'Gran Partita' Bläser der Berliner PhilharmonikerDGG 437 771-2 (1980)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Piano Sonata No. 13 K. 333 in B-Flat Major Piano Sonata No. 4 K. 282 in E-Flat Major Piano Sonata No. 16 K. 545 in C Major Piano Sonata No. 9 K. 310 in A Minor Huguette Dreyfus, FortepianoDenon CO-77616 (1990)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Violin Sonata K. 454 in B-Flat Major Violin Sonata K. 526 in A Major Violin Sonata K. 547 in F Major Sergiu Luca, ViolinMalcolm Bilson, FortepianoNonesuch 79112-2 (1984)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5 K. 219 in A Major Symphony No. 41 K. 551 in C Major 'Jupiter' Anne-Sophie Mutter, ViolinBerliner PhilharmonikerHerbert von KarajanDGG 429 314-2 (1976)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5 K. 219 in A Major Flute and Harp Concerto K. 299 in C Jennifer Pike, ViolinEmily Beynon, Flute; Catherine Beynon, HarpBBC National Orchestra of WalesGarry WalkerThierry Fischer (K. 299)BBC MM354 (2011)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Violin Concerto No. 3 K. 216 in G Major Violin Concerto No. 4 K. 218 in D Major Violin Concerto No. 5 K. 219 in A Major Camerata Academica SalzburgAugustin DumayDGG 457 645-2 (1996)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart The Violin Concertos Frank Peter Zimmermann, ViolinWürttembergisches Kammerorchester HeilbronnJörg Faerber EMI 7 63823 2 (1987)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Symphony No. 36 K. 425 in C Major 'Linz' Symphony No. 40 K. 550 in G Minor Staatskapelle DresdenColin DavisPhilips 422 398-2 (1988)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Symphony No. 30 K. 202 in D Major Symphony No. 31 K. 297 in D Major 'Paris' Symphony No. 32 K. 318 in G Major Symphony No. 33 K. 319 in B-Flat Staatskapelle DresdenColin DavisPhilips 432 977-2 (1991)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Symphony No. 35 K. 385 in D Major 'Haffner' Symphony No. 38 K. 504 in D Major 'Prague' Staatskapelle DresdenColin DavisPhilips 416 155-2 (1988)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Symphony No. 29 K. 201 in A Major Symphony No. 33 K. 319 in B-Flat Symphony No. 34 K. 338 in C Major Wiener PhilharmonikerRiccardo MutiPhilips 462 906-2 (1998)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Symphony No. 31 K. 297 in D Major 'Paris' Symphony No. 41 K. 551 in C Major 'Jupiter' Wiener PhilharmonikerRiccardo MutiPhilips 442 126-2 (1993)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 'Coronation' Mass K. 317 in C Major Vesperae solennes de confessore K. 339 Joan Rodgers, Soprano; Elisabeth von Magnus, Mezzo-SopranoJosef Protschka, Tenor; László Polgár, BassArnold Schoenberg ChorConcentus musicus Wien Nikolaus HarnoncourtTeldec 8 43535 (1986)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 'Great' Mass K. 427 in C Minor Vesperae solennes de confessore K. 339 Kathleen Battle, Lella Cuberli, SopranoPeter Seiffert, Tenor; Kurt Moll, BassWiener StaatsopernchorWiener PhilharmonikerJames LevineDGG 423 664-2 (1986)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Requiem K. 626 in D Minor Lynne Dawson, Soprano; Jard van Nes, ContraltoKeith Lewis, Tenor; Simon Estes, BassPhilharmonia Chorus and OrchestraCarlo Maria GiuliniSony SMK60025 (1989)Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Requiem K. 626 in D Minor Anna Tomowa-Sintow, Soprano; Helga Müller-Molinari, ContraltoVinson Cole, Tenor; Paata Burchuladze, BassWiener SingvereinWiener PhilharmonikerHerbert von KarajanDGG 419 610-2 (1986)Frédéric Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2 Op. 21 in F Minor Carl Loewe Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major Mari Kodama, Piano Russian National Orchestra Kent Nagano Pentatone 5186026 (2004) Frédéric Chopin Piano Sonata No. 2 Op. 35 in B-Flat Minor Sergej Rachmaninov Piano Sonata No. 2 Op. 36 in B Minor Hélène Grimaud, Piano DGG 477 5325 (2005)Frédéric Chopin Ballades Scherzo No. 4 Op. 54 in E Berceuse Op. 57 in D-Flat Major Barcarolle Op. 60 in F-Sharp Major Evgeny Kissin, Piano RCA 09026 63259 2 (1998)Frédéric Chopin Ballades Fantaisie Op. 49 in F Minor Berceuse Op. 57 in D-Flat Major Michaël Levinas, PianoAdes 14.076-2 (1985)Frédéric Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 Op. 11 in E Minor Fantaisie-Impromptu Op. 66 in C-Sharp Minor Fantaisie Op. 49 in F Minor Berceuse Op. 57 in D-Flat Major Maria João Pires, PianoChamber Orchestra of EuropeEmmanuel Krivine DGG 457 585-2 (1998)Frédéric Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2 Op. 21 in F Minor Préludes Op. 28 Maria João Pires, PianoRoyal Philharmonic OrchestraAndré PrevinDGG 437 817-2 (1992)Frédéric Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 Op. 11 in E Minor Piano Concerto No. 2 Op. 21 in F Minor Martha Argerich, PianoOrchestre symphonique de MontréalCharles DutoitEMI 5 56798 2 (Re-issued by Musicom) (1998)Frédéric Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 Op. 11 in E Minor Piano Concerto No. 2 Op. 21 in F Minor Lang Lang, PianoWiener PhilharmonikerZubin MehtaDGG 477 7982 (2008)Frédéric Chopin Etudes Op. 10 Etudes Op. 25 Maurizio Pollini, PianoDGG 413 794-2 (1972)Frédéric Chopin 10 Mazurkas Prélude Op. 45 in C-Sharp Minor Ballade No. 1 Op. 23 in G Minor Scherzo No. 2 Op. 31 in B-Flat Minor Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, PianoDGG 413 449-2 (1972)Frédéric Chopin Nocturnes Maria João Pires, PianoDGG 447 096-2 (1996)Frédéric Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 Op. 11 in E Minor Piano Concerto No. 2 Op. 21 in F Minor 14 Waltzes Maria João Pires, PianoOrchestre National de l'Opéra de Monte-CarloArmin JordanErato 3984 21089-2 (1977-1984)Frédéric Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 Op. 11 in E Minor Piano Concerto No. 2 Op. 21 in F Minor Jorge Bolet, PianoOrchestre symphonique de MontréalCharles DutoitDecca 425 859-2 (1989) Frédéric Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 Op. 11 in E Minor Piano Concerto No. 2 Op. 21 in F Minor Bella Davidovich, PianoLondon Symphony OrchestraNeville MarrinerDecca 468 117-2 (1980) Frédéric Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 Op. 11 in E Minor Piano Concerto No. 2 Op. 21 in F Minor Krystian Zimerman, PianoLos Angeles PhilharmonicCarlo Maria GiuliniDGG 415 970-2 (1979) Frédéric Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 Op. 11 in E Minor Piano Concerto No. 2 Op. 21 in F Minor Polish Festival Orchestra Krystian ZimermanDGG 459 684-2 (1999) Frédéric Chopin Préludes Op. 28 Prélude Op. 45 in C-Sharp Minor Prélude in A-Flat Major Alexander Scriabin Piano Sonata No. 2 Op. 19 in G-Sharp Minor Beatrice Rana, PianoATMA Classique 2614 (2012) Frédéric Chopin Scherzos Polonaise Op. 61 in A-Flat Major Claudio Arrau, PianoPhilips 412 610-2 (1984) Frédéric Chopin Préludes Op. 28 Piano Sonata No. 2 Op. 35 in B-Flat Minor Polonaise Op. 53 in A-Flat Evgeny Kissin, PianoRCA 09026 63535 2 (1999) Frédéric Chopin Ballades Piano Sonata No. 2 Op. 35 in B-Flat Minor Andrei Gavrilov, PianoEMI 7 47344 2 (1985) Frédéric Chopin Piano Sonata No. 2 Op. 35 in B-Flat Minor Préludes Op. 28 Nocturnes Op. Nos. 2 in E-Flat & 3 in B Anna Kravtchenko, PianoDecca 476 3120 (2005) Frédéric Chopin Piano Sonata No. 2 Op. 35 in B-Flat Minor Scherzos Simon Trpčeski, Piano EMI 3 75586 2 (2006) Frédéric Chopin Piano Sonata No. 2 Op. 35 in B-Flat Minor Selected Nocturnes, Mazurkas, Waltzes Ballade No. 3 Op. 47 in A-Flat Major Sergej Rachmaninov, Piano RCA 09026 62533 2 (1919/1935) Frédéric Chopin Piano Sonata No. 3 Op. 58 in B Minor 12 Mazurkas Evgeny Kissin, Piano RCA 09026 62542 2 (1993) Frédéric Chopin Piano Sonata No. 2 Op. 35 in B-Flat Minor Piano Sonata No. 3 Op. 58 in B Minor Mitsuko Uchida, Piano Philips 420 949-2 (1988) Frédéric Chopin 14 Waltzes 7 Mazurkas Jean-Marc Luisada, Piano RCA 88875028062 (2013) Frédéric Chopin Ballades Scherzos 14 Waltzes 4 Impromptus Samson François, Piano EMI 7 62569 2 (1963) Frédéric Chopin Cello Sonata Op. 65 in G Minor Sergej Rachmaninov Cello Sonata Op. 19 in G Minor and Cello Sonatas by Gabriel Fauré and Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Paul Tortelier, Cello Aldo Ciccolini, Eric Heidsieck, Maria de la Pau, Piano EMI 5 74333 2 (1968) Frédéric Chopin 4 Mazurkas Op. 24 Joaquín Turina5 Danzas Gitanas, Series 2 Op. 84Franz SchubertFantasia D. 940 in F MinorJohannes Brahms4 Hungarian Dances Katarina & Vladimir Krpan, Piano Nemini Similis SC9605 (1995) Link to "The Odd Couple" previous post: BONUS: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Piano Concerto No. 22 K. 482 in E-Flat MajorJohannes BrahmsSymphony No. 4 Op. 98 in E Minor Barry Douglas, Piano Orchestra del Teatro la Fenice di VeneziaYuri TemirkanovRAI Digital Archives – Venice, 4 May 2002 MUST-HAVE (mainly for the Douglas) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Symphony No. 36 K. 425 in C Major ‘Linz’Claude Debussy Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune Franz Schubert Rondo D. 438 in A Major for Violin and Orchestra Thomas Zehetmair, Violin Mahler Chamber Orchestra Alan Gilbert RAI Digital Archives – Ferrara, 30 October 2002 Flac & Scans



Meeting in Music

December 27

Opera Favourites #2 - La giovane scuola

Some of the finest hours of the Italian melodramma are to be found in this post dedicated to the generation of the 1860s. This consistent group of composers were able to create a new style by evolving from Verdi's cumbersome yet inspiring heritage and in the meantime by fetching musical inputs from the sublime musical efforts of Wagner and from those of their own contemporaries, mainly Strauss, the French School and eventually Debussy and Ravel. The results were often outstanding, with the towering figure of Puccini surrounded by somewhat less charismatic and prolific personalities, yet very distinguished musicians like the many here presented. The Maestro from Lucca takes center stage, of course, and his many masterpieces like La Bohème, Tosca, Turandot or Il Trittico are popular milestones, combining a very distinctive melodic flair with outstanding musical and orchestrating skills. In all fairness, I've always believed that the true Puccini mostly lies in his early capolavori (Manon Lescaut, La Bohème and Tosca), after which, the Tuscan genius began to give in to his restless musical curiosity by borrowing more heavily from Strauss (Turandot's sublime 2nd Act outburst "Mai nessun m'avrà" or the quite similar sounding "E anche tu lo vorrai, Joe" in Fanciulla's finale are but a few examples) or Ravel (Suor Angelica, the beginning of Fanciulla's 2nd Act and the Ministers' gently rocking themes in Turandot's 2nd Act). The rest is a series of extraordinary masterpieces the likes of Mascagni's Cavalleria (its famous Intermezzo sounds in every Italian's heart - mine included - like a most touching instrumental unofficial National anthem), and of course Leoncavallo's moving masterpiece: Pagliacci. And more - Montemezzi's outright Wagnerian effort, the wonderful L'Amore dei tre re (something like a Tristan in "salsa veronese"), Zandonai's sultry debussyanism (the magnificent Paolo/Francesca duet from Francesca da Rimini's 3rd Act), Wolf-Ferrari's unique and elegant comedy, Giordano's noble and powerful portrait of the French Revolution, and Cilea's sophisticated Adriana Lecouvreur, a gem of an opera in which the Calabrian composer showcases his most sublime melodies, along with one of the greatest scenes of the whole Verista repertoire, the Adriana/Principessa de Bouillon duet in the 2nd Act, in many ways a perfect synthesis between a late Verdi style and Puccini's hair-raising Angelica/Zia Principessa duet... Pietro Mascagni Cavalleria rusticana Agnes Baltsa, Plácido Domingo, Juan Pons, Vera Baniewicz, Susanne Mentzer Chorus of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden Philharmonia Orchestra Giuseppe Sinopoli DGG 429 568-2 (1989) Pietro Mascagni Cavalleria rusticana Jessye Norman, Giuseppe Giacomini, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Rosa Laghezza, Marta Senn Choeurs and Orchestre de Paris Semyon Bychkov Philips 432 105-2 (1990) Pietro Mascagni Cavalleria rusticana Zinka Milanov, Jussi Björling, Robert Merrill, Margaret Roggero, Carol Smith Robert Shaw Chorale RCA Victor Orchestra Renato Cellini RCA GD86510 (1953) Pietro Mascagni Cavalleria rusticana Renata Scotto, Plácido Domingo, Pablo Elvira, Jean Kraft, Isola Jones Ambrosian Opera Chorus National Philharmonic Orchestra James Levine RCA RD83091 (1979) Pietro Mascagni - Cavalleria rusticana Ruggero Leoncavallo - Pagliacci Martina Arroyo, Franco Bonisolli, Bernd Weikl, Juliana Falk, Livia Budai, Vladimir Atlantov, Lucia Popp, Bernd Weikl, Wolfgang Brendel, Alexandru Ionita Tölzer Knabenchor and Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks Münchner Rundfunkorchester Lamberto Gardelli RCA 74321 25282 2 (1983) Pietro Mascagni - Cavalleria rusticana Ruggero Leoncavallo - Pagliacci Montserrat Caballé, José Carreras, Matteo Manuguerra, Astrid Varnay, Julia Hamari, Renata Scotto, Kari Nurmela, Thomas Allen, Ugo Benelli Southend Boys' Choir and Ambrosian Opera Chorus Philharmonia Orchestra Riccardo Muti EMI 7 63650 2 (1979) Pietro Mascagni - Cavalleria rusticana Ruggero Leoncavallo - Pagliacci Julia Varady, Luciano Pavarotti, Piero Cappuccilli, Ida Bormida, Carmen Gonzales, Mirella Freni, Ingvar Wixell, Lorenzo Saccomani, Vincenzo Bello The Finchley Children's Music Group and London Opera Chorus National Philharmonic Orchestra Gianandrea Gavazzeni Giuseppe Patané (Pagliacci) Decca 414 590-2 (1978) Ruggero Leoncavallo Pagliacci José Cura, Barbara Frittoli, Carlos Álvarez, Simon Keenlyside, Charles Castronovo Het National Kinderkoor and Netherlands Radio Choir Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Riccardo Chailly Decca 467 086-2 (1999) Ruggero Leoncavallo Pagliacci Carlo Bergonzi, Joan Carlyle, Giuseppe Taddei, Rolando Panerai, Ugo Benelli Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala Herbert von Karajan DGG 449 727-2 (1965) Ruggero Leoncavallo Pagliacci Luciano Pavarotti, Daniela Dessì, Juan Pons, Paolo Coni, Ernesto Gavazzi Westminster Symphonic Choir Philadelphia Orchestra Riccardo Muti Philips 434 131-2 (1992) Umberto Giordano Andrea Chénier Luciano Pavarotti, Montserrat Caballé, Leo Nucci, Kathleen Kuhlmann, Astrid Varnay, Christa Ludwig, Tom Krause, Hugues Cuénod, Piero de Palma Chorus of the Welsh National Opera National Philharmonic Orchestra Riccardo Chailly Decca 410 117-2 (1984) Umberto Giordano Andrea Chénier Plácido Domingo, Renata Scotto, Sherrill Milnes, Maria Ewing, Jean Kraft, Gwendolyn Killebrew, Allan Monk, Terence Sharpe, Michel Sénéchal The John Alldis Choir National Philharmonic Orchestra James Levine RCA 74321 39499 2 (1978) Francesco Cilea Adriana Lecouvreur Joan Sutherland, Carlo Bergonzi, Leo Nucci, Cleopatra Ciurca, Francesco Ellero d'Artegna, Michel Sénéchal Orchestra and Chorus of the Welsh National Opera Richard Bonynge Decca 425 815-2 (1990) Francesco Cilea Adriana Lecouvreur Renata Scotto, Plácido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes, Elena Obraztsova, Giancarlo Luccardi, Florindo Andreolli Ambrosian Opera Chorus Philharmonia Orchestra James Levine CBS Sony 88697446212 (1977) Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari Il segreto di Susanna Renata Scotto, Renato Bruson Philharmonia Orchestra John Pritchard CBS Masterworks 36733 (1980) Italo Montemezzi L'amore dei tre re Anna Moffo, Plácido Domingo, Pablo Elvira, Cesare Siepi, Ryland Davies Ambrosian Opera Chorus London Symphony Orchestra Nello Santi RCA 74321 50166 2 (1977) Riccardo Zandonai Francesca da Rimini (3rd Act Duet) and Love Duets from Verdi's Otello and Un ballo in maschera, and Puccini's Madama Butterfly Plácido Domingo, Katia Ricciarelli Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Gianandrea Gavazzeni RCA ARL1 2799 - CD release (1972) Giacomo Puccini Tosca Carol Vaness, Giuseppe Giacomini, Giorgio Zancanaro, Piero de Palma, Danilo Serraiocco, Orazio Mori, Alfredo Mariotti, Charles Austin, Jeffrey Smith Westminster Symphonic Choir Philadelphia Orchestra Riccardo Muti Philips 434 595-2 (1992) MUST-HAVE - Best leading trio ever, in my opinion. Vaness, the great Giacomini and the finest Baritono Verdiano of his generation (Zancanaro) shine under Muti's imaginative and highly dramatic approach, the Philadelphia Orchestra is just pure gold. Giacomo Puccini Tosca Mirella Freni, Plácido Domingo, Samuel Ramey, Anthony Laciura, Bryn Terfel, Ralf Lukas, Angelo Veccia, Bryan Secombe, Lee Tierna Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Philharmonia Orchestra Giuseppe Sinopoli DGG 431 775-2 (1990) Giacomo Puccini Tosca Kiri Te Kanawa, Giacomo Aragall, Leo Nucci, Piero de Palma, Malcolm King, Paul Hudson, Spiro Malas, Nicholas Folwell, Ivo Martinez Children of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Welsh National Opera Chorus National Philharmonic Orchestra Georg Solti Decca 414 597-2 (1986) Giacomo Puccini Tosca Katia Ricciarelli, José Carreras, Ruggero Raimondi, Heinz Zednik, Gottfried Hornik, Victor von Halem, Fernando Corena, Wolfgang Bünten Schöneberger Sängerknaben, Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin Berliner Philharmoniker Herbert von Karajan DGG 413 815-2 (1979) Giacomo Puccini Tosca Montserrat Caballé, José Carreras, Ingvar Wixell, Piero de Palma, Samuel Ramey, William Elvin, Domenico Trimarchi, Ann Murray Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Colin Davis Philips 438 359-2 (1976) - Courtesy of Cecco Giacomo Puccini Tosca Leontyne Price, Plácido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes, Francis Egerton, Clifford Grant, John Gibbs, Paul Plishka, Michael Rippon, David Pearl John Alldis Choir New Philharmonia Orchestra Zubin Mehta RCA Lyrica 0105 (1972) Giacomo Puccini Tosca Galina Vishnevskaya, Franco Bonisolli, Matteo Manuguerra, Mario Guggia, Antonio Zerbini, Domenico Versaci Medici, Guido Mazzini, Giacomo Bertasi Les Choeurs et Maîtrise de Radio France Orchestre National de France Mstislav Rostropovich DGG 477 5599 (1976) Giacomo Puccini Tosca Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna, Ruggero Raimondi, David Cangelosi, Maurizio Muraro, Sorin Coliban, Enrico Fissore, Gwynne Howell, James Savage-Hanford Tiffin Boys' Choir Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Antonio Pappano EMI 5 57173 2 (2000) Giacomo Puccini Tosca Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, Sherrill Milnes, Michel Sénéchal, Richard Van Allan, Paul Hudson, Italo Tajo, John Tomlinson, Walter Baratti Wandsworth Boys' Choir and London Opera Chorus National Philharmonic Orchestra Nicola Rescigno Decca 414 036-2 (1978) Giacomo Puccini Il Trittico (Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi) Mirella Freni, Giuseppe Giacomini, Juan Pons, Elena Souliotis, Leo Nucci, Roberto Alagna, Piero de Palma, Ewa Podles, Barbara Frittoli, Gloria Scalchi, Franco de GrandisCoro di voci bianche "Guido Monaco" di Prato Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Bruno Bartoletti Decca 436 261-2 (1991) Giacomo Puccini Il Trittico (Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi) Maria Guleghina, Neil Shicoff, Carlo Guelfi, Cristina Gallardo-Domâs, Bernadette Manca di Nissa, Felicity Palmer, José van Dam, Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna, Elena ZilioTiffin Boys' Choir and London Voices London Symphony Orchestra Philharmonia Orchestra (Suor Angelica) Antonio Pappano EMI 5 56587 2 (1997) Giacomo Puccini Il Trittico (Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi) Renata Scotto, Plácido Domingo, Ingvar Wixell, Marilyn Horne, Ileana Cotrubas, Tito GobbiDesborough School Choir and Ambrosian Opera Chorus New Philharmonia Orchestra London Symphony Orchestra (Gianni Schicchi) Lorin Maazel CBS M3K79312 (1980) - Courtesy of Cecco Giacomo Puccini La fanciulla del West Carol Neblett, Plácido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes, Francis Egerton, Robert Lloyd, Jonathan Summers John Dobson, Robin Leggate, Malcolm KingChorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Zubin Mehta DGG 419 640-2 (1977) - Courtesy of Cecco Giacomo Puccini La Rondine Le Villi (Excerpts) Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna, William Matteuzzi, Inva Mula, Alberto Rinaldi London Voices London Symphony OrchestraAntonio Pappano EMI 5 56338 2 (1997) - Courtesy of Cecco Giacomo Puccini La Bohème Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, Elizabeth Harwood, Rolando Panerai, Gianni Maffeo, Nicolai Ghiaurov Schöneberger Sängerknaben, Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin Berliner Philharmoniker Herbert von KarajanDecca 421 049-2 (1972) MUST-HAVE. Simply "THE" Bohème. If no other recording existed, it wouldn't really be a loss. Unsurpassable milestone of a performance. Giacomo Puccini La Bohème Angelina Réaux, Jerry Hadley, Barbara Daniels, Thomas Hampson, James Busterud, Paul Pliska Coro e Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Leonard BernsteinDGG 423 601-2 (1988) Giacomo Puccini La Bohème Leontina Vaduva, Roberto Alagna, Ruth Ann Swenson, Thomas Hampson, Simon Keenlyside, Samuel Ramey London Oratory School Boys and London Voices Philharmonia Orchestra Antonio PappanoEMI 5 56120 2 (1995) Giacomo Puccini Turandot Eva Marton, José Carreras, Katia Ricciarelli, John-Paul Bogart, Waldemar Kmentt, Robert Kerns, Helmut Wildhaber, Heinz Zednik, Kurt Rydl Wiener Sängerknaben Chor und Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper Lorin MaazelSony M2K 39160 (1983) - Courtesy of Cecco Giacomo Puccini Turandot Katia Ricciarelli, Plácido Domingo, Barbara Hendricks, Ruggero Raimondi, Piero de Palma, Gottfried Hornik, Heinz Zednik, Francisco Araiza, Siegmund Nimsgern Wiener Sängerknaben und Wiener Staatsopernchor Wiener Philharmoniker Herbert von KarajanDGG 423 855-2 (1982) Giacomo Puccini Turandot Birgit Nilsson, Jussi Björling, Renata Tebaldi, Giorgio Tozzi, Alessio de Paolis, Mario Sereni, Piero de Palma, Tommaso Frascati, Leonardo Monreale Orchestra e Coro del Teatro dell'Opera di Roma Erich LeinsdorfRCA 09026 62687 2 (1959) Giacomo Puccini Turandot Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Montserrat Caballé, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Peter Pears, Tom Krause, Pier Francesco Poli, Piero de Palma, Sabin Markov John Alldis Choir London Philharmonic Orchestra Zubin Mehta Decca 414 274-2 (1972) Giacomo Puccini Manon Lescaut Montserrat Caballé, Plácido Domingo, Vicente Sardinero, Noël Mangin, Robert Tear, Delia Wallis Ambrosian Opera Chorus New Philharmonia Orchestra Bruno Bartoletti EMI 64852/TCVO 2/03 (1971) - Courtesy of CeccoGiacomo Puccini Manon Lescaut Kiri Te Kanawa, José Carreras, Paolo Coni, Italo Tajo, William Matteuzzi, Margarita Zimmermann Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Comunale di Bologna Riccardo Chailly Decca 421 426-2/Amadeus 0437/8 (1987) - Courtesy of CeccoGiacomo Puccini Manon Lescaut Mirella Freni, Plácido Domingo, Renato Bruson, Kurt Rydl, Robert Gambill, Brigitte Fassbaender Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Philharmonia Orchestra Giuseppe Sinopoli DGG 413 893-2 (1984)Giacomo Puccini Manon Lescaut Maria Guleghina, José Cura, Lucio Gallo, Luigi Roni, Marco Berti, Gloria Banditelli Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala Riccardo Muti DGG 463 186-2 (1998) - Courtesy of CeccoGiacomo Puccini Madama Butterfly Mirella Freni, José Carreras, Teresa Berganza, Juan Pons, Anthony Laciura, Kurt Rydl, Marianne Rørholm Ambrosian Opera Chorus Philharmonia Orchestra Giuseppe Sinopoli DGG 423 567-2 (1987) - Courtesy of CeccoGiacomo Puccini Madama Butterfly Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, Christa Ludwig, Robert Kerns, Michel Sénéchal, Marius Rintzler, Elke Schary Wiener Staatsopernchor Wiener Philharmoniker Herbert von Karajan Decca 417 577-2 (1974)Giacomo Puccini Madama Butterfly Angela Gheorghiu, Jonas Kaufmann, Enkelejda Shkosa, Fabio Capitanucci, Gregory Bonfatti, Raymond Aceto, Cristina Reale Coro e Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Antonio Pappano EMI 4 562152 (2008) Flac & Scans

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