In many ways, Debussy’s piano music finds its rightful home on the harp. Apart from the distinctive textural and colouristic elements in the writing itself, we have contemporary accounts of Debussy’s piano-playing that refer to his ability to make you forget a piano even had hammers. Of course, this doesn’t allow for dreamy, “impressionistic” interpretations; rather, it makes clarity and precision absolute imperatives – which qualities we find in abundance in this recital by Xavier de Maistre and friends.
After her sumptuous album of Strauss songs with orchestra, soprano Diana Damrau marks the bicentenary of Liszt’s birth with an album of his most celebrated songs in German and Italian, accompanied by pianist Helmut Deutsch.
Diana Damrau’s primacy as an interpreter of Violetta Valéry in La traviata can be inferred from the names of theatres where she has performed Verdi’s most popular opera: the Metropolitan, New York; La Scala, Milan; London’s Royal Opera House; the Bavarian State Opera in Munich and the Zurich Opera. Paris’s Opéra Bastille joined that list of leading houses in June 2014, when the German soprano appeared in a new production by the film director Benoît Jacquot. Conducted by Francesco Ivan Ciampa, it is presented on this DVD release from Warner Classics, which joins a DVD of Verdi’s Rigoletto, with Damrau as Gilda, recorded in Dresden and released in 2010, and the recent CD release of the soprano’s spine-tingling interpretation of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, recorded live in Munich.
The soprano Diana Damrau stars in the operas of Mozart, Verdi, Rossini, Donizetti and Strauss, but Forever is the ‘soundtrack of her life’ in the form of much-loved numbers from operetta, musicals and the movies – including Die Fledermaus, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, The Phantom of the Opera and The Little Mermaid. “This music shows a side of me that many people don’t know yet,” she says. “These tunes are great art, because they are associated with unforgettable moments in everyone’s lives.”
In this recital of 19th century Italian arias Damrau proves that precision, refinement and controlled intensity of expression – the guiding principles of bel canto (literally, beautiful singing) – apply not only to Bellini and Donizetti, but also in the more explicit passions of their successors, Verdi, Puccini and Leoncavallo. Performing with the Orchestra of the Teatro Regio Torino under Maestro Gianandrea Noseda, and featuring as guests artists Nicolas Testé (Diana Damrau’s husband), Nicole Brandolino and Piotr Beczała, this album sits between two releases of complete recordings of works at the centre of the bel canto canon – Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor (November 2014) and Verdi’s La Traviata (Autumn 2015). This album is sure to further affirm her place as the important dramatic coloratura soprano of her generation.
Opera never has shown its contrasts more than in this Rigoletto from the Sächsische Staatskapelle in Dresden. The production is full of harsh conflicts, which Verdi himself implies by filling this tragedy with so much cheery music. All of the performances here are outstanding. Željko Lučić vanquishes the title role with his powerful voice and emotive acting, which makes him riveting if slightly painful to watch as he is emotionally destroyed.::–Rob McGinness, ClassicsToday.com
The sought-after lyric tenor Piotr Beczala, is the womanizing Duke in this new production of Verdi’s Rigoletto from the Metropolitan Opera. Željko Luèiæ sings the title role and Diana Damrau sings Rigoletto’s daughter Gilda. This DVD and Blu-ray release appears in the Verdi year 2013, as music lovers around the world celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Italy’s beloved composer.
This thrilling recording around concert performances at the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus is set to be a milestone in at least two ways. It marks the beginning of an extended Deutsche Grammophon collaboration with rising star Yannick Nézet-Séguin – the young French-Canadian maestro - “surely the most exciting talent of his generation” (Edward Seckerson, The Independent, January, 2011) who has already been celebrated from the Metropolitan Opera House New York to Royal Opera House Covent Garden, La Scala Milan and the Salzburg Festival.
Thanks to the surprising proliferation of Mahler’s music on DVD, there are multiple performances of this particular symphony with which to compare this new one (not least among them Bernstein’s and Abbado’s); there is also Boulez’s own previous performance with the Vienna Philharmonic, made a couple of months after this concert, available on one generous DG CD, to consider by way of comparison.