A loving tribute to French Song, by one of the greatest voices. With exceptional sensibility and understanding of the French language, the renowned Swedish singer pays a loving homage to French melody and song. Known for her artistic journeys which transcend the borders of musical genre, Anne Sofie von Otter’s collaborations include those with Elvis Costello and Brad Mehldau, with whom she recorded her ‘Love Songs’ album on Naïve.
A new disc from Anne Sofie von Otter always arouses eager expectation, whatever the repertoire. None of the composers featured on this recording of Lieder and Mélodies is regarded primarily for his songwriting prowess, yet von Otter conjures winner after winner. Even at their lightest, these pieces never fail to charm, and some of them do a good deal more than that. As one would expect from such an experienced lieder artist, the program is beautifully constructed, with songs carefully placed for maximal variety, not just of tone but also of instrumentation (excellent playing from clarinetist Eric Hoeprich and violinist Nils-Erik Sparf). This is another winner from von Otter and friends.
Ombre de mon amant is Anne Sofie von Otter's first recording of these French Baroque Arias–graceful, temperamental tunes which will delight her fans and thrill Baroque music cognoscenti. Von Otter's mastery of diverse musical genres, crystalline diction and exquisite musicality empower her interpretations of French repertoire. Her celebrated Offenbach album and album of rarities by Chaminade are previous examples of her success in the French repertory. Every bit a woman of the theater as she is of song, von Otter embodies Charpentier's Médée and Rameau's Phèdre in Hippolyte et Aricie in the grand manner in which they were surely performed originally. Von Otter is partnered by William Christie and his matchless ensemble, Les Arts Florissants, who bring exuberant energy and theatrical flair to every track.
It would be hard to find an opera in any area of the repertory that presents so many textual problems as Les conies d'Holfmann, largely stemming from the fact that the composer died four months before the premiere early in 1881, leaving the score incomplete. The traditional text, bringing in extra material, much of it unauthentic, and leaving out a lot, was only established this century. Arthur Hammond with the Carl Rosa Company was a pioneer in attempting to sort out a more acceptable text, and his work formed the basis of the English National Opera production at the Coliseum and also the Richard Bonynge recording for Decca. Since then the discovery of no less than 1,250 autograph pages allowed Fritz Oeser to produce his monumental edition, as used extensively in the Cambreling recording for EMI (12/88 —nla)…
Anne Sofie von Otter, accompanied by Bengt Forsberg and joined by baritone Fredrik Zetterström for two duets, performs works by four Swedish composers whose works were all composed within a century of each other. These works provide a broad image of the early development of a Swedish Lied tradition and paved the way for the great generation of Swedish song composers, including Stenhammar, Peterson-Berger and Rangström.
Rebelling against the increasingly formulaic operas of the time, Christoph Willibald Gluck's "reformist" opera Alceste (1767) was a successful attempt to return to a purer form of musical drama. It is highly appropriate that this 1999 production of the revised 1776 Paris version should be conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, with the English Baroque Soloists and Monteverdi Choir, the same forces responsible for many fine Bach performances equally emphasizing character and text. In setting the tragic story of the profound love between Queen Alceste and her husband King Admète, Gluck provided a score of austere, rending beauty… By –Gary S. Dalkin
Perhaps through all the down-scaling going on at major record companies, song-recitalists will prove to be the most fortunate, what with their relatively inexpensive production costs and abundant quantity of both well-loved and still-untapped repertoire. Whatever the case, there’s been no shortage of fine solo-song recordings during the past couple of years–and here’s another one that also happens to contain repertoire almost never heard in concert or on disc. And it’s not because the music has little merit. Anyone who enjoys early-to-mid-19th century song will enjoy this…