It's not necessary to make extravagant claims for Francesco Cavalli's originality to recognize his absolute mastery of the style of mid-17th century Venetian opera perfected by Monteverdi in L'incoronazione di Poppea. The fact that he was able to keep the operatic form so fresh and vital (and most importantly, hugely entertaining) for more than a generation after Monteverdi's death is achievement enough.
Abbado's Verdi recordings are some of the finest available and this Requiem recording is no expection. Abbado takes a less ferocious approach than say Muti, or Barenboim, balancing the dramatic moments effectively against the more introspective aspects of the score. Ricciarelli is in fine form here, singing with a fine sense of line and intense emotional declamation. Her intonation is perfect. Verrett blends seamlessly with Ricciarelli, making the most of their duet and capturing the intense sadness of much of the writing quite well. Domingo, in his first recording of the part, provides a steady stream of golden tone, effortlessly produced. His emotional temperature runs about right here - not overly dramatic - after all, this is not Aida - but strong feelings kept on a tight rein. Ghiaurov is phenomenal. His gigantic bass somehow anchoring the entire quartet and chorus into an imposing yet gorgeous Verdian soundscape. There are many excellent Verdi Requiem recordings - this is surely one of the very best.
Debussy modified the inertias of music without altering the thread of music history; he changed the course without losing north, and avoided the pitfalls that led so many other eminent composers of his era to isolation and melancholy. All this is manifested in the works that Peruvian pianist Claudio Constantini reveals to us in this stunning release, second in a series that presents the recording of the complete piano output of the French composer, in which he performs the 24 Preludes, composed by Debussy in two volumes, the first from 1909 to 1910, while he was already ill with the cancer which would cause his death in 1918, and the second from 1911 to 1913. Together with the first book of Preludes, Claudio Constantini performs the Estampes from 1903 and the Ballade Slave from 1890; and next to the second book of Preludes, his Images oubliées from 1894.
Mute and Spoon are pleased to announce the release of VILLA WUNDERBAR, on 4 November 2013, a 2CD set, compiling the work of Can founder Irmin Schmidt’s solo and soundtrack work, including two unreleased Can remixes and a collection of soundtrack pieces personally compiled by long-term collaborator Wim Wenders. CD1 is a compilation of Irmin Schmidt’s extensive work as a solo artist over the past 30 years, whilst CD2 – selected and presented by the filmmaker Wim Wenders – is an insight into Schmidt’s vast work as a composer for film and television for which Wenders has written extensive sleeve notes. The two CD compilation includes tracks such as Villa Wunderbar, Kick On The Floods and Bohemian Step, alongside unreleased remixes by Schmidt of two Can tracks, Alice and Last Night Sleep.
The plot concerns the feisty eponymous heroine Isabella. She has been sailing in the Mediterranean, accompanied by an elderly admirer Taddeo, in search of her lover Lindoro. After her ship is wrecked Mustafa, the Bey of Algiers, believes her the ideal replacement for his neglected wife who he intends to marry off to a captured slave, who happens to be Lindoro. Complicated situations ensue involving Taddeo being awarded the honour of Kaimakan and Mustafa in turn becoming a Pappataci, a spoof award invented by Isabella to keep him obeying her strict instructions. All ends well in a rousing finale with the Italians escaping from the clutches of the Bey.
Piano and tenor & soprano saxophone respectively, Filippini and Ionata, with Maurizio Rolli contrabass, Nicola Angelucci drums and an appearance of the drummer Giancarlo Alfani, present themselves in this their first CD with hints of great swing in the name of standard and original pieces. What is most striking to listen is the close understanding of the quartet in weaving the musical plots with the usual interplay: I love You by Cole Porter is the first of the examples, followed by nine others.
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.
These fine performances constitute the only complete cycle currently available of the 17 string quartets that pepper Villa-Lobos' entire career. The suite-like, five-movement No. 1, with its adorable "like a jumping bean" finale, is deceptive. Most of these are resoundingly neo-classical works full of acerbic harmonies and typically busy counterpoint, with few overtly nationalistic elements. Of course they sound just like Villa-Lobos, who was himself something of a "nationalistic element" when you come right down to it. The series reaches its culmination in the large works composed around the time of the Second World War, Nos. 7-11, which really do constitute landmark 20th century contributions to the form on a par with those of Shostakovich and Bartók.