At the end of March 2011, Bill Nelson and the Gentlemen Rocketeers, along with one hundred plus guests, populated Studio A at Metropolis, West London, for a dynamite concert reminiscent of the Marquee club in its heyday. A blistering fourteen song set from the band, which covers much of Bill’s career to date, was the result. We’re delighted to present that set here on both CD and DVD, together with an interview with Bill and a sublime four track solo set as DVD extras.
Parsifal represents the culmination of Wagner’s work as a revolutionary composer of opera. In it he created a powerful allegory on the conflict between Christianity and paganism, good and evil, light and dark, physical passion and spiritual abstinence. This dramatic production by the brilliant German stage director Harry Kupfer marked Daniel Barenboim’s appointment as the artistic director of the Berlin State Opera in 1992. The cast is made up of the finest Wagnerian singers of the period, all of whom enjoyed substantial international careers. Barenboim’s superb conducting reveals Wagner’s multi-layered score in all its glory.
With this new production of La traviata at the 2011 Aix-en-Provence Festival, Natalie Dessay made her first European appearances as Verdi’s Violetta, a pinnacle of the soprano repertoire. She made her debut in the role in 2009 at the Santa Fe Festival in the US, and subsequently sang Violetta in Japan. Dessay’s 2011-12 season will include La traviata at the Vienna State Opera (in this Aix-en-Provence production by French theatre and opera director Jean-François Sivadier) and the New York Metropolitan.
This instrumental ensemble is appreciated for its dynamic vivacity, virtuosic precision, and the historical accuracy of its performance practices. The ensemble has been invited to many of the most important festivals, including the Prague Spring, Flanders Festival, Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht (Ancient Music Festival of Utrecht), Bach Tage Berlin (Berlin Bach Days), Ansbacher Bachwoche (Ansbach Bach Week), the York Early Music Festival, and Wratislavia Cantans.
Beata es Maria is made up primarily of vocal music in praise of the Virgin that features three men's voices, a counter tenor, tenor, and bass. It's an especially attractive ensemble, and Charpentier, who is known to have sometimes sung the tenor parts, knew how to make the vocal lines terrifically appealing. The Magnificat that opens the album beautifully illustrates his skill in taking a much-used convention the chaconne, with a harmonic progression that (the composer reports) repeats 89 times and keeping it endlessly intriguing with his inventive handling of the voices.