The culmination of a three-year Monteverdi project led by conductor William Christie and director Pier Luigi Pizzi at Madrid's Teatro Réal, L'incoronazione di Poppea brings a potent blend of sex and politics, high drama and comedy. Leading the cast are Danielle de Niese, Philippe Jaroussky, Max Emanuel Cencic and Anna Bonitatibus.
William Christie, who most recently started 2012 at New York's Metropolitan Opera, conducting The Enchanted Island, is joined by the Les Arts Florissants as he evokes a veritable orgy of nuances, subtly creates atmosphere and shows a perfect sense for the accents of the piece. It took Christie and director Pier Luigi Pizzi three years to mount Monteverdi's three operas together. The result was a production full of elegance and beauty.
These works, and this recording, work for me. Listening to Korngold's Op.1, you'd never suspect he was 12 years old when he composed it. It's the work of a mature composer, albeit one who would go on to find more of his own voice. But that's the case with all great artists of course. And Zemlinksy's works are always ingenious and rewarding. The professional relationship between these two composers makes the relationship between these two trios all the more interesting. As usual, the Beaux Arts Trio plays impeccably and Philips has created a magnificent recording.
Nothing could be more different than Arrau's approach to Mozart even in the early stages of his career. Certainly, other pianists in those days gave full value to the dramatic power of the minor-key sonatas. But very few approached with the sheer volcanic force he brought to those bass octaves and no-holds-barred style in seemingly less serious works.