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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part VI. Nominations and Awards: Opera, Choral, Solo Vocal

The top six recordings in each of the 12 categories as voted for by the panel of Gramophone's critics, and the winners.

2. Opera, Choral, Solo Vocal




Οι πρώτες έξι ηχογραφήσεις κάθε μίας από τις 12 κατηγορίες όπως ψηφίστηκαν από την κριτική επιτροπή του Γκράμοφον, και οι νικητές.


Το Βραβείο Όπερας απέσπασε η ηχογράφηση της «Αΐντα» του Τζουζέπε Βέρντι, από τη Warner Classics, με τους Anja Harteros, Jonas Kaufmann, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Ludovic Tézier, Erwin Schrott, Marco Spotti, Eleonora Buratto και Paolo Fanale, και τη Χορωδία και την Ορχήστρα της Ακαδημίας της Αγίας Καικιλίας της Ρώμης υπό τη διεύθυνση του Αντόνιο Παπάνο.

Το Βραβείο Χορωδιακής Μουσικής κέρδισε ο δίσκος "Schoenberg: Gurre-Lieder" από την Hyperion Records, με τους Barbara Haveman, Claudia Mahnke, Brandon Jovanovich, Gerhard Siegel, Thomas Bauer και Johannes Martin Kränzle, τις χορωδίες Netherlands Female Youth Choir, Domkantorei Köln, Männerstimmen des Kölner Domchores, Vokalensemble Kölner Domchores, Chor des Bach-Vereins Köln και Kartäuserkantorei Köln, και την Gürzenich-Orchester Köln (Συμφωνική Ορχήστρα της Κολωνίας) υπό τη διεύθυνση του Γερμανού μαέστρου Markus Stenz.

Η 50χρονη Γαλλίδα υψίφωνος Βερονίκ Γκενς κέρδισε το Βραβείο Τραγουδιού (solo vocal) για την ερμηνεία της στον δίσκο "Néère" (από την Alpha Classics), με τη Susan Manoff να τη συνοδεύει στο πιάνο.


Opera
















Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: The Queen of Spades – Mariss Jansons (BR Klassik)

Giuseppe Verdi: Aida – Antonio Pappano (Warner Classics)

Ruggero Leoncavallo: Pagliacci | Pietro Mascagni: Cavalleria rusticana – Christian Thielemann (Sony Classical)

Riccardo Zandonai: Francesca da Rimini – Fabrice Bollon (CPO)

Gaetano Donizetti: Les Martyrs – Mark Elder (Opera Rara)

Richard Wagner: Das Rheingold – Simon Rattle (BR-Klassik)


...and the winner is
Giuseppe Verdi: Aida – Antonio Pappano (Warner Classics)













Aida is the most classically concise of the great 19th-century grand operas yet it remains the one most closely associated with theatrical excess. To savour its qualities, it should be heard first, seen later, which is why the gramophone has played so important a role in its performing history. Nowadays record companies mainly serve up opera on DVD or in cheap-to-record concert performances. Yet, as Antonio Pappano has had the courage to insist, you cannot record Aida in concert. Set in temple and tomb, by river and city gate, the sound planes are too various, the range of dynamics too complex to replicate in concert-hall conditions.

Aida received its first complete studio recording in Rome in 1928 but it was the 1959 Decca recording – produced in Vienna by John Culshaw with Karajan conducting a largely Italian cast – that finally gave us what Andrew Porter, writing in these columns, called "a sound realisation of the score which transcends any shortcomings inherent in physical staging and brings us a step closer to that ideal imagined performance". Not that the Decca set displaced the theatrically thrilling, albeit more conventionally produced, 1955 Serafin recording with Maria Callas as Aida and Tito Gobbi as a near definitive Amonasro.

The new recording, produced by Stephen Johns, stands within that broad EMI tradition, albeit with a larger stage picture and a greatly enhanced dynamic range beautifully accommodated to the opera's need, and the listener's. Where the new set resembles the 1959 Decca is in the quality of the conducting. Pappano's direction, like Karajan's, is organic as the work is organic: each episode finely shaped within itself (the Triumphal Scene is beautifully judged) yet built unerringly into the larger whole. I don't hear this to the same extent in Muti's 1974 EMI recording and certainly not in the 1961 RCA set, where a strong cast headed by Leontyne Price and Jon Vickers has to do battle with Solti's brazen and occasionally thoughtless conducting.

Karajan has the Vienna Philharmonic but it is arguable that Pappano goes one better, with orchestral playing of rare accomplishment from an Italian ensemble which is alive to the opera's every word. (And motion: the ballet sequences are superbly realised.) In both performances the orchestra is a powerful additional player which supports the singers at every turn. The result is a vocally lyrical Aida with Pappano's cast, like Karajan's, never needing to force the moment. We hear this at the very outset in Jonas Kaufmann's account of "Celeste Aida", less visceral than some but wonderfully mellifluous and crowned by a rarely heard quietly diminishing high B flat.

Anja Harteros is arguably the most interesting Aida on record since Callas, albeit differently characterised. Where Callas is every inch the lovelorn warrior princess, Harteros is a humane and articulate Aida who is palpably not the mistress of her destiny. Her top C near the end of "O patria mia" is neither as pianissimo nor as dolce as Caballé's on the Muti recording, but that – for all but the most ardent canary-fancier – is beside the point when Caballé lacks the power persistently to outface Fiorenza Cossotto's dauntless Amneris and is never as at one with her Radamès, Plácido Domingo, as Harteros is with the leonine yet liquid-toned Kaufmann.

It matters little in an intelligently produced studio recording that of the principals only Ekaterina Semenchuk has sung her role on stage, though her Amneris is indeed one of the finest on record. Ludovic Tézier is an impressive Amonasro. Apart from an indistinct final syllable on "Ei t'ama" as Amonasro confronts his daughter with the fact of Radamès's love for her, he is a consistently strong player. Marco Spotti makes a plausible King, but Erwin Schrott's High Priest sounds too benign to be the regime's political enforcer.

Pappano has already given us an exceptional recording of the Messa da Requiem (EMI, 10/09), which Verdi wrote shortly after Aida. The concentrated quiet of the choral work in the temple scenes, where Eleonora Buratto contributes an exquisite High Priestess, echoes this. In the trial scene and the lovers' entombment, the new recording perhaps deploys too few tricks. I rather miss Culshaw's contrived but subtly layered acoustic picture; and prefer hieratic brass which is palpably nel sotterraneo as Verdi directs. (The 1955 Serafin recording has this exactly right.) But the singing of the doomed lovers has tenderness and beauty, and the preternaturally quiet Santa Cecilia string-playing is exquisitely managed as the drama makes its longed-for tryst with silence.

No recording is without the occasional oddity of balance and perspective. And Warner's booklet is poor, preferring a PR puff to an essay on the opera itself. But these are minor matters in the presence of what is as fine an all-round Aida as the gramophone has yet given us.

Source: Richard Osborne (gramophone.co.uk)



Choral
















Herbert Howells: Collegium Regale & other choral works – Trinity College Choir Cambridge, Stephen Layton (Hyperion)

Ludwig van Beethoven: Missa solemnis – Chor und Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Bernard Haitink (BR-Klassik)

Arthur Bliss: Morning Heroes, Hymn for Apollo – BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Andrew Davis (Chandos)

Arnold Schoenberg: Gurre-Lieder – Barbara Haveman, Claudia Mahnke, Brandon Jovanovich, Gerhard Siegel, Thomas Bauer, Johannes Martin Kränzle, Netherlands Female Youth Choir, Domkantorei Köln, Männerstimmen des Kölner Domchores, Vokalensemble Kölner Domchores, Chor des Bach-Vereins Köln & Kartäuserkantorei Köln, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, Markus Stenz (Hyperion)

"Amuse-Bouche" – Anna Markland, I Fagiolini, Robert Hollingworth (Decca)

"Poetry in Music" – The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (Coro)


...and the winner is
Arnold Schoenberg: Gurre-Lieder – Barbara Haveman, Claudia Mahnke, Brandon Jovanovich, Gerhard Siegel, Thomas Bauer, Johannes Martin Kränzle, Netherlands Female Youth Choir, Domkantorei Köln, Männerstimmen des Kölner Domchores, Vokalensemble Kölner Domchores, Chor des Bach-Vereins Köln & Kartäuserkantorei Köln, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, Markus Stenz (Hyperion)













This new Gurre-Lieder, a follow-up in some ways to Hyperion's well-received disc of Strauss tone-poems with the Gürzenich Orchestra (5/13), marks something of a departure for the label. Though recorded in Cologne with a local production team, however, it's a release that still seems to capture the essence of the label's "house style", presenting a profoundly musical performance of clarity and intelligence. Technically, too, it's a formidable achievement, not just in terms of engineering that is transparent and gloriously detailed – especially when heard in Hyperion's Studio Master download – but in playing and singing that is able to encompass all of the vast work’s demands.

The Gürzenich Orchestra does not, admittedly, make as luxurious a sound as, say, Abbado's Vienna Philharmonic or Rattle's Berliners, whose players – particularly the richly seductive upper strings and luxurious horns – bring a greater Romantic swell and swoon to such key passages as Part 1's Zwischenspiel. The sound Stenz gets from his orchestra is leaner, the strings more silk than velvet, but no less beautiful as a result, offering a more delicate picture of longing in the first part, occasionally displaying more languour than ardour; the musical structure and essential clarity are never lost in the clatter of Part 3. And Stenz retains a canny knack for opening the lyrical floodgates when required: the ebb and flow he brings to Tove and Waldemar's final songs in Part 1 is exquisite.

He's helped by very fine soloists. Barbara Haveman might not have the compelling charisma of Karita Matilla (for Rattle), but the voice is wonderfully rich and expansive, soaring up to a powerful top B. Brandon Jovanovich brings a rugged vocal handsomeness to Waldemar, and there is a touching sensitivity and slight vulnerability in the timbre – a Heldentenor with a ringing top who retains some lyrical colour. Like Haveman, he has all the notes under his belt. Claudia Mahnke's Waldtaube is rich-voiced and moving, occasionally reminiscent of Brigitte Fassbaender on the Chailly set – high praise indeed. Gerhard Siegel is a fine Klaus-Narr, though not quite as multicoloured as Philip Langridge (Abbado and Rattle), and Thomas Bauer does his bit for nominative determinism as a lively Bauer. There are benefits, too, to having Johannes Martin Kränzle, a baritone in his prime, filling out the Speaker's Sprechgesang strongly, without the mannerisms some bring to it – his "Ach, war das licht und hell!" is rapturously done.

Negatives? The massed choruses feel to me as though they’re balanced a little far back, sounding a touch hazy – the concluding "Seht die Sonne" isn't quite as heart-stopping as it might be as a result. I'm not sure, either, whether Stenz finds as much darkness in Parts 2 and 3 as others. In sum: the set might not jump immediately to the top of a well-stocked pile, but it shines a new light on this fascinating piece and has a fierce conviction and integrity all its own. I can't imagine anyone interested in the work will want to be without it.

Source: Hugo Shirley (gramophone.co.uk)



Solo Vocal
















Dmitri Shostakovich: Suite on Poems by Michelangelo | Franz Liszt: Petrarch Sonnets – Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Ivari Ilja (Ondine)

L'Heure Exquise, A French Songbook – Alice Coote, Graham Johnson (Hyperion)

"Musica e Poesia" – Rosa Feola, Iain Burnside (Opus Arte)

"Néère" – Véronique Gens, Susan Manoff (Alpha Classics)

Ludwig van Beethoven: Lieder & Bagatellen – Werner Güra, Christoph Berner (Harmonia Mundi)

"Joyce & Tony", Live at Wigmore Hall – Joyce DiDonato, Antonio Pappano (Erato)


...and the winner is
"Néère" – Véronique Gens, Susan Manoff (Alpha Classics)













Véronique Gens's new album is an important issue on several fronts. First and foremost, it is arguably the most perfectly realised recital of French songs since Stéphane Degout's very different "Mélodies" (Naïve, 4/11). Second, it is quite remarkable and insightful in its programming. At its centre is Chausson's Op.2 set, dating from 1881, much excerpted ("Le colibri" is very famous), but recorded here complete for the first time since Graham Johnson's survey of the composer's songs (Hyperion, 5/01). Around it are grouped works by Duparc and Hahn, the latter represented not only by such familiar items as "A Chloris" but by songs from his Etudes Latines, a mixed solo-choral collection setting texts by Leconte de Lisle, published in 1900. They are quite wonderfully original – their sinewy melodies and pulsing accompaniments are closer in style to Satie's Gnossiennes than anything else in Hahn's output – and the disc as a whole makes a superb case for considering his songs, sometimes thought dilettantish, as being on a level with those of his elder contemporaries.

Gens, as one might expect, is exceptional in this repertoire. Most of the songs are about erotic anticipation and tristesse, and her dark, slightly smoky tone adds to the sensuality of it all. She sings as much off the text as the line, but nothing is nudged or forced in an overtly interventionist way. Neither she nor her pianist Susan Manoff seemingly believe that French song is necessarily about restraint and delicacy, and both are prepared to use bold colours and effects when the situation demands. "Au pays où se fait la guerre" delivers near-Gothic frissons as a lurch of vocal anxiety and a piano shudder accompany the sound of strange footfalls on the tower stairs, and the arpeggios with which Manoff surrounds the image of the fields coloured "d'hyacinthe et d'or" in "L’invitation au voyage" glitter and sparkle like the contents of some sumptuous, decadent jewel box. Elsewhere, poise is all. Gens's "A Chloris" is one of the best there is, and Hahn's "Néère", which gives the disc its title, leaves you open-mouthed with its beauty.

Source: Tim Ashley (gramophone.co.uk)



To be continued / Συνεχίζεται


See also / Δείτε επίσης

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part IX. Nominations and Awards: Instrumental & Recording of the Year

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part VIII. Nominations and Awards: Orchestral, Chamber, Contemporary

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part VII. Nominations and Awards: Concerto, Recital

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part V. Nominations and Awards: Baroque Instrumental, Baroque Vocal, Early Music

Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part IV. Special Awards 2016 | Lifetime Achievement: Christa Ludwig | Special Achievement: BBC Radio 3 | Label of the Year: Warner Classics


Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part III. Special Awards 2016 | Young Artist of the Year: Benjamin Appl


Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part II. Special Awards 2016 | Artist of the Year: Daniil Trifonov


Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2016 – Part I. All of the news from an inspiring and moving awards ceremony

&

ECHO KLASSIK Awards 2016

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