Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by OE3, Jan 18, 2011.
So Wigmore Hall is in London?
Me and my family went back to London to live for a year 2008-9 and going to Wigmore Hall was one of my reasons for doing so.
I'd lived in London for 15 years in the 80s and 90s and didn't even know of its existence. But since then I've wised up.
While we were back I went at least once or twice a week. Their Sunday morning concerts are great - often featuring the same artists from the night before. Reasonable ticket price includes a coffee or sherry - very civilised!
I made sure I saw all my favourites I'd been listening to on CD: Florestan Trio, Quatuor Mosaiques, Stephen Kovacevich, Marc-Andre Hamelin and many others - it was a wonderful year for live music.
Toward the Sea III: 20th Century works for flute, viola and harp - Aurele Nicolet (flute), Nobuko Imai (viola), Naoko Yoshino (harp) [Philips 1994]
-Honegger: Petite Suite
-Takemitsu: Toward the Sea III
-Debussy: Sonata for flute, viola & harp
-Takemitsu: And then I knew it was wind
Enjoy your retirement Flicka!
Frederica von Stade will give her final performance tonight.
Houston Grand Opera's Dead Man Walking by Jake Heggie (Composer) and Terrence McNally (Librettist)
Dead Man Walking is deeply moving
By EVERETT EVANS ARTS WRITER
Philip Cutlip plays convicted murderer Joseph De Rocher in Dead Man Walking.
Absolute in its skill and devastating in its power, Houston Grand Opera's Dead Man Walking more than lives up to the reputation that this uncompromising and thoroughly engrossing work has acquired since its world premiere at San Francisco Opera a decade ago.
Inspired by Sister Helen Prejean's memoir of serving as spiritual adviser to Death Row inmates, composer Jake Heggie and librettist Terrence McNally have stared unflinchingly into the dark heart of its difficult subject matter. Despite the fact that much of the action is unbearably painful, they find light and transcendence amid that darkness, thanks largely to the ennobling influence of their protagonist. Dead Man Walking wipes you out, yet its final impact is cathartic, uplifting and humanizing. Coincidentally, Heggie and McNally have written the most deeply and genuinely spiritual new work to inhabit either opera or theater stages in many years.
HGO has invested the nightmarish subject matter with a dream production and, especially, a dream cast. That's not surprising, since many key talents are returning to the work; time seems only to have deepened their commitment. The masterful conducting is by HGO musical director Patrick Summers, who conducted the 2000 premiere. Also returning from that production is the beloved Frederica von Stade, heartbreaking as the condemned man's mother, the role she originated. Director Leonard Foglia is re-creating his fluid and potent production seen at New York City Opera in 2002. Most crucially of all, Joyce DiDonato returns to her NYCO role as Sister Helen and her life-changing portrayal proves an absolute revelation.
None of this is meant to slight Philip Cutlip's superb work in his role as convicted murderer Joseph De Rocher, a "monster" struggling to find his soul.
McNally's libretto is a model of efficient and involving storytelling, with a plainspoken eloquence that grows ever more affecting as the grim tale advances. He captures the struggle of every key figure: Sister Helen, to forgive the killer; De Rocher, to tell the truth and meet his fate; the anguish of the parents of his victims; the torment of his mother, preparing to watch her son die.
Heggie's score weaves a musical texture that sustains the tense atmosphere, propels the gripping confrontations and expresses the characters' searching spirituality. Though some critics have complained that Heggie's music falls short of the full depth demanded by the subject, and others may wish for a higher melodic profile, Heggie imbues key arias with a muted lyricism whose troubled yearning sounds apt, especially with the unsettled orchestral underpinning. There certainly are memorable highlights, from Sister Helen's recurring hymn He Will Gather Us Around, to the scene of the grieving parents, to Mrs. De Rocher's aria pleading for her son's life.
Any Dead Man Walking depends first and foremost on the effectiveness of its Sister Helen. This production is blessed with DiDonato, who is nothing short of magnificent. Her vocalizing is extraordinary throughout, whether for pitch, power, clarity or miraculously sustaining a note. She acts with flame-like intensity, her doubt and confusion every bit as real as her steely resolve to meet her responsibility at whatever personal cost. DiDonato's Sister Helen is truly a light in a dark place.
Cutlip's De Rocher is, as he must be, a major source of the darkness. He sings with tough force and acts the hardened killer with the right scary edge and jeering arrogance. Then as Sister Helen gradually begins to reach him, he lets us see glimmers of humanity, his fear, his shame. Cutlip makes the transition very convincing, from his initial wariness, to the pained confession of his guilt to Sister Helen, and finally to their bond of forgiveness and support as he prepares to die.
Von Stade is giving her farewell performances as Mrs. De Rocher and no one could act or sing the part more movingly. Her warm, lovely mezzo expresses the character's pain and fragility with simplicity and grace. She is wrenching and unforgettable pleading with the parole board for her son's life and, later, saying goodbye with a memory of him as an innocent boy.
Measha Brueggergosman makes a strong and sympathetic figure of Sister Rose, Helen's confidante. John Packard, Cheryl Parrish, Susanne Mentzer and Jon Kolbet are fine as the grief stricken parents of De Rocher's victims, Packard outstanding in a key scene expressing his conflicts to Sister Helen. The HGO Chorus, prepared by Richard Bado, performs ably.
Foglia's taut direction sustains the fretful atmosphere, though leavened at times by little jabs of ironic humor. He creates striking stage pictures, making vivid use of Michael McGarty's imposing prison setting, with its ever-shifting layers of mesh-wire fences, bars and metal staircases. The production is enhanced by Brian Nason's starkly dramatic lighting and Elaine J. McCarthy's evocative projections to create other locales.
DiDonato's Sister Helen fervently sings of her journey to God and forgiveness, just as Prejean herself and all the work's creators have described the opera's story as a journey. The real achievement of Dead Man Walking is that everyone witnessing it will feel they have walked that journey with Sister Helen, with De Rocher, with his mother and with the parents of his victims. Rarely has any opera produced such profound empathy for so many on all sides of a complicated and terrible dilemma.
However great an operatic and theatrical experience, Dead Man Walking makes its greatest impact as a purely human one.
I adore the Van Cliburn, I like the Richter as well but it doesn't move me in the same way. Reiner is on top form as well of course.
Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony (Poems by Walt Whitman) - Heather Harper (s); John Shirley-Quirk (bar); André Previn/London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus [RCA Red Seal 1986, orig. red ring disc cat. no. 6237-2-RC and full-art back, Produced by James Burnett; Recording engineer: K.E. Wilkinson]
Wilkinson left Decca in 1980, is this one of the last recordings by the Master?? I have another of his post-Decca freelance jobs on Hyperion LP. Would love to have a discography of his post-Decca recordings. Anyone know?
Thanks for the link. I ordered a number of Wigmore Hall Live CD's from Presto Classical and they just arrived yesterday. Unfortunately, 2 large orders shipped right after the New year are still MIA ...
Now playing SACD1 from this set, which arrived last week for a first listen ...
Have you contacted the merchant? What did they say? All of my overseas parcels are shipped Express, they should have tracking info, my signature is always required.
I already contacted Presto Classical but will give myself another week or so before filing for the losses. An order placed with MDT a week before Christmas never arrived but the replacement did arrive early last week. My understanding is between the snowstorms on the east coast and the UK and the stepped up inspections for all air cargoes since the failed attempt to blow up some cargo plane that originated from the UK in late November has created the delay, which has been experienced by many. Presto pretty much gave me the same story ...
That's good coverage, no question . . . though I do implore anyone who loves the piece to check out Kapell.
Piano Concerto 2
The brisk first movement has nice intensity, but is somewhat hampered by poor sonics and a forwardly placed piano image. I also find the second movement to be taken a bit too fast for me. The speed in the finale works well, adding to the excitement and Kapell's technique is never in question. The timings of all three movements are almost identical to the composers. His interpretation is decidedly modern, rather than romantic, which is how I prefer my Rachmaninov. Still, it is nice to have this unique interpretation.
From Natan Brand and now William Kappel, I am really behind the curve big-time, having only picked up some CD's by Kemal Gekic a short while ago ...
Now playing SACD2 from this set for a first listen. SACD1 was interesting in that Harnoncourt only performed selections of the 9th in a workshop setting, i.e. analysis followed by illustration ...
Now playing this SACD for a second listen but for a first listen of its SACD layer. I have the complete 77 cycle on LP and in that Karajan Symphony Edition ...
I just ordered this last night.
Nice to see you in these parts.
My listening breadth is expanding madly these days.
Hear that guys? Fresh meat!
Mahler: Symphony No. 7 in E Minor, 'Song of the Night' - Maurice Abravanel/Utah Symphony Orchestra [Vanguard 196? VSD-71141/2, gatefold 2LP on orange labels with machine-stamped matricies 2A/2A/2G/2A, very quiet pressing, excellent performance -- straightforward with great clarity of textures, which the audiophile sound helps bring out -- as a child Abravanel lived with fellow Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet for a while in Lausanne, interesting!]
Does He realize what He has opened Himself to?
Yes - near Oxford Street.
Edit - Asked and answered, I see.
Separate names with a comma.