Opera Rara recorded the new critical edition by the Rossini Foundation of Otello. Hugely admired in its day, this highly innovative score contains some of Rossini’s most inspired music. The recording includes the reconstruction of the alternative happy ending (written for Rome in 1820) as well as an aria for Desdemona which the great Giudetta Pasta sang to acclaim in Paris and London.
'Bruce Ford reveals himself as a Rossinian without equal today' - Hugh Canning, Sunday Times
English composer Thomas Tallis witnessed dramatic changes of religion under four monarchs, and his career accordingly represents the development of polyphonic church music in Renaissance England. Along with his student and fellow Roman Catholic, William Byrd, Tallis was one of the earliest composers to publish music under royal patent in England, and his works demonstrated the shifting doctrines and styles of liturgy in the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I. This 2017 Obsidian release features one piece with a text by Henry VIII's sixth and last wife, Katherine Parr, which gives the album its title, though the mix of Roman Catholic and Anglican pieces on the program suggests that "songs of Reformation" may be seen as one-sided. In any case, the performances by the vocal ensemble Alamire and the viol consort Fretwork put the emphasis on Tallis and his varied output, rather than on the theological preferences of royalty. The result is a well-balanced portrait of Tallis, and his choral music is given transparent textures and clear diction by the 14-voice choir, which maintains independence of parts while offering an evenly blended tone.
The "100 Years of Italian Opera" series released by Opera Rara is unique in the annals of opera recordings. However, this installment is especially exciting as it documents the evolution of Italian opera during the 1820's, the decade when romanticism truly began to come into its own on the operatic stage. Opera Rara has lovingly compiled a variety of arcana written by composers famous and forgotten. Included is everything from overtures to arias, duets, ensembles, and entire scenes.
Zenaida Yanowsky as Elizabeth allows us to see a dancer in her prime, capable of expressing emotion through her movement, never at a loss in this exploration of the Virgin Queen’s life. Carlos Acosta represents the various men in her life while displaying his remarkable artistry. Acosta has retired and Yanowsky is about to retire from the Royal Ballet, so it is good to have this souvenir of two dancers whom I imagine were rarely paired in performances of other ballets. Martin Yates’s score is an imaginative piece, using Elizabethan music as a blueprint while maintaining a contemporary feeling, and Raphael Wallfisch is amazing in the sounds he draws from his cello. (Joel Kasow)