The third in the Glass’ trilogy of operas about men who changed the world in which they lived through the power of their ideas, “Akhnaten”‘s subject is religion. The Pharaoh Akhnaten was the first monotheist in recorded story, and his substitution of a one-god religion for the multi-god worship in use when he came to power was responsible for his violent overthrow. The opera describes the rise, reign, and fall of Akhnaten in a series of tableaus. Libretto (Egyptian, Arcadian, Hebrew, and language of the audience) by the composer in association with Shalom Goldman, Robert Israel and Richard Riddell. Vocal text drawn from original sources by Shalom Goldman.
"This Grammy winner, one of the most successful versions of Puccini's final opera, offers Nilsson's first recording of the title character, and Bjoerling's last operatic portrayal on disc, including a heroic, for-the-ages "Nessun dorma". The extraordinary orchestration, befitting a story set in ancient China, benefits from the new DSD remastering."
Not being a lifelong Wagner devotee, I'm not sure if this particular performance has been released before or not, but I do know that it was included in a 2013 9-title release of Wagner operas recorded live from The Met from 1937 through 1954.
Why this performance? 3 words: Flagstad, Melchior, Huehn. I would add to that Leinsdorf, especially since the recording quality is so bad; his faster-than-the-norm tempi help cut through the densely muddy sound quality.
EMI brought out the Brahms Symphony in its Great Conductors of the Twentieth Century series where it joined some other famous Scherchen discs – notably Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony, Haydn’s No. 100 in G and Stravinsky’s Firebird review. Scherchen’s live recording of the Kalinnikov with the Czech Philharmonic has formed part of Tahra’s Scherchen sets. So neither of these performances constitutes terra incognita for admirers of this conductor, who will know, only too well, that when Archipel claim that these 24 bit 96 kHz (whatever that is) restorations derive "from the original sources" the truth is nothing of the kind.
Kathleen Battle ended her operatic career on a sour note when she was fired from the MET, and this album somehow reflects that–it lacks her usual vivacity and joy. This is the only recital I've heard form her that's routine, and things aren't helped by the fact that her voice, a light colorature, isn't substantial enough for many of these arias, which are for a lyric soprano.By Santa Fe Listener