This set brings together two albums of modern music for solo cello played by Emmanuelle Bertrand. The first disc, Bertrand's début release on harmonia mundi, features works by Dutilleux, Crumb, Henze, Ligeti and Bacri. The second, released under the title Le violoncelle parle (the Cello Speaks), includes Suites for Solo Cello by Britten and Cassado and Kodaly's Sonata for Solo Cello. In Bertrand's hands, the cello truly 'speaks' and takes us beyond geographical boundaries and straight to the heart of the language of cultural inspiration.
Harmonia Mundi's series Les Nouveaux Interprètes aims to bring us "the cream of the new generation of musicians," and no listener to this CD will deny the appropriateness of the young French cellist Emmanuelle Bertrand in that company. Her recital is devoted to solo cello music of the 20th century, and two interpretations stand out as having the composer's blessing: those of the inventive Trois strophes sur le nom de Sacher (1976-1982) by Henri Dutilleux, and the more conventional but still finely written Suite No. 4 (1994-1996) by Nicolas Bacri, which is dedicated to Bertrand and was premiered by her. Here and in the other works—the engaging and characterful Serenade (1949) by Hans Werner Henze, the impressive Sonata (1955) by the American individualist George Crumb, and the powerful, folk-influenced early Sonata (1948-53) by Ligeti—Bertrand reveals her mastery of tonal variety and creative engagement with her material. Booklet documentation on these rather esoteric pieces is weak, but all the works are worth getting to know, especially in performances such as these.—Amazon.com Editorial Review
Following several acclaimed albums of Handel’s operatic and choral masterpieces (including a triumphant Giulio Cesare with Natalie Dessay as Cleopatra and the oratorio La Resurrezione with British soprano Kate Royal), French harpsichordist and conductor Emmanuelle Haïm at last brings her fresh, expressive approach to Messiah. Joining her on a musically and spiritually uplifting journey for this long-awaited recording is Haïm’s own choir and period-instrument orchestra, Le Concert d’Astrée, with four of the UK’s finest Handelian singers. Having begun her career as a brilliant harpsichordist and protegee of Baroque pioneers William Christie and Christophe Rousset, Haïm has a long history with Messiah.
The major debut on Decca DVD of Danielle de Niese. Returning to the opera house where she sang her sensational Cleopatra in Handel's Giulio Cesare, Danielle performs the title role in Monteverdi's great opera of lust and power, in Robert Carsen's new, modern-dress staging. De Niese is perfectly cast as the beautiful and seductive Poppea who ruthlessly grabs power as Nero's lover but, in this production, is doomed from the moment of her coronation. De Niese's performance is vocally and dramatically powerful, perfectly complemented by Alice Coote as Nero. The two are supported by an outstanding cast, together with period-performance stars Emmanuelle Haïm conducting the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Carsen creates an intelligent and visually-strong production, focusing on the personal side of the story. At times the action is violent and shocking, but this is juxtaposed with episodes of lightness and humour.
Giulio Cesare, the most popular of Handel’s operas, is named after the great Roman emperor, but its most memorable character is Cleopatra. In this production by Laurent Pelly from Paris’ splendid Palais Garnier, the role of the Egyptian queen is assumed for the first time by Natalie Dessay, described by the Telegraph as “a supreme vocal enchantress”.
What a wonderful contrast! Handel’s Dixit Dominus and Bach’s Magnificat represent the two oft-compared composers at Dixit . He had already written two Italian operas, and his career path clearly pointed in that direction. The Dixit is as extravagant as Bach’s Magnificat is controlled. The two pieces are such a good fit that one wonders why they haven’t turned up together more frequently, if, in fact, they have at all.