Anna Netrebko – Sempre Libera (2004)

FrontCover1.jpgAnna Yuryevna Netrebko (Russian: Анна Юрьевна Нетребко, born 18 September 1971) is a Russian operatic soprano. She now holds dual Russian and Austrian citizenship and currently resides in Vienna, Austria, and in New York City.

Netrebko was born in Krasnodar (Russia), in a family of Kuban Cossack Background. While a student at the Saint Petersburg conservatoire, Netrebko worked as a janitor at Saint Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre. Later, she auditioned for the Mariinsky Theatre, where conductor Valery Gergiev recognized her from her prior work in the theatre. He subsequently became her vocal Mentor (by wikipedia)

“Sempre libera,” Anna Netrebko’s second album with Deutsche Grammophon, was released in August 2004. The album features arias from La traviata, Lucia di Lammermoor, I Puritani, La Sonnambula, and Otello and was recorded with Claudio Abbado and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

Anna+Claudio.jpg

Anna Netrebko’s second CD is even more impressive than her first. She still may not be an absolutely polished, finished artist, but she’s working at it and presents here a very satisfying—even thrilling—program. She doesn’t quite have the stature or insights for Verdi’s Violetta yet, but aside from some smudged coloratura in low-lying passages she sings the first act scene quite well (capped with a well-placed, big E-flat). She’s close to ideal in the Sonnambula and Puritani excerpts, where her girlishness is entirely right, her coloratura dazzling, and her ability to sound tearful really impressive. The Lucia Mad Scene (also notable here for its use of the glass harmonica for which it was composed in place of the usual flute) is quite wonderful, even if the runs are sometimes not as well-delineated as they should be. And although she’s not vocally suited to Desdemona’s Willow Song and Ave Maria, she does manage to darken her voice to fit the character and presents a very moving portrait. The CD ends with an utterly charming “O mio babbino caro.” Artistry and everything else aside, her voice is just beautiful. Claudio Abbado’s leadership is ideal. (Robert Levine)

Anna.jpg

Personnel:
Anna Netrebko (soprano)
+
Andrea Concetti  (bass)
Sara Mingardo (mezzo-soprano)
Saimir Pirgu (tenor)
Nicola Ulivieri (baritone)

The Mahler Chamber Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado:

bassoon:
Chiara Santi – Karoline Schick
cello:
K
onstantin Pfiz – Natalie Caron – Philipp von Steinaecker – Raphael Bell – Stefano Guarino
clarinet:
Alexander Eissele – Romain Guyot
english horn:
Emma Schied
bass:
Anita Mazzantini – Frank Dolmann – Paolo Borsarelli
flute:
Chiara Tonelli – Stefania Morselli – Ulrich Biersack
glass harmonica:
Sascha Reckert 

harp
Julie Palloc

horn:
Fritz Pahlmann – Gianfranco Dini – Markus Bruggaier -Thomas Schulze
oboe:
Mizuho Yoshii
percussion:
Gianluca Saveri – Mihaly Kaszas
timpani:
Robert Kendell
trombone;
Ricardo Casero – Robb Tooley – Wolfgang Tischhart

trumpet:
Bernhard Ostertag – Christopher Dicken

tuba:
Michael Cunningham

Viola:
Béatrice Muthelet – Catharina Meyer – Delphine Tissot – Stefano Marcocchi – Susanne Lerche – Verena Wehling

violin:
Antonello Manacorda – Cindy Albracht – Geoffroy Schied – Henja Semmler, – sabelle Briner – Markus Däunert – May Kunstovny – Meesun Hong – Naoko Ogihara – Serguei Galaktionov –
Akemi Uchida – Daniel Möller – Heather Cottrell – Jana Ludvíčková – Katarzyna Zawalska – Mette Tjaerby – Naomi Peters – Riikka Sundqvist

+
Coro Sinfonico Di Milano conducted by Romano Gandolfi

BackCover1.jpg

Tracklist:

Giuseppe Verdi: La Traviata
01. No. 3 Scena Ed Aria: “È Strano! È Strano! – Ah, Fors’è Lui – Follie! Delirio Vano È Questo! 4.55
02. Sempre Libera 3.39

Vincenzo Bellini: La Sonnambula
03. No. 12 Scena Ed Aria Finale: Ah! Se Una Volta Sola Rivederlo Potessi 5.38
04. Ah! Non Credea Mirarti 4.47
05. Ah! Non Giunge Uman Pensiero 2.41

Vincenzo Bellini: I Puritani
06. No. 7 Scena Ed Aria: “O Rendetemi La Speme – Qui La Voce Sua Soave 4.36
07. Ah! Tu Sorridi E Asciughi Il Pianto! 4.02
08 “Vien, Diletto, È In Ciel La Luna! 2.57

Gaetano Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor
09. No. 14 Scena Ed Aria: “O Giusto Cielo! – Il Dolce Suono 3.18
10. Ohimè! … Sorge Il Tremendo Fantasma 3.15
11. Ardon Gli Incensi 5.01
12. Spargi d’Amaro Pianto 3.37

Giuseppe Verdi: Otello
13 Era Più Calmo? – Mia Madre Aveva Una Povera Ancella 5.00
14 Piangea Cantando Nell’Erma Landa 7.04
15 Ave Maria 5.17

Giacomo Puccini: Gianni Schicchi
16. O Mio Babbino Caro 2.51

 

CD1

*
**

Booklet18.jpg

Advertisements

Claudio Abbado & Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra – New Year´s Concert In Vienna (1991)

FrontCover1.jpgHere´s the history of this classic event on the first day of a year:

The first New Year’s Concert took place during the darkest chapter of the history of Austria and that of the Vienna Philharmonic. In the midst of barbarism, dictatorship and war, at a time of constant worry regarding the lives of members and their families, the Philharmonic sent an ambivalent signal: the net income from a concert dedicated to compositions by the Strauss dynasty which was performed on December 31, 1939, was donated entirely to the national-socialistic fund-raising campaign “Kriegswinterhilfswerk”. On January 1, 1941, a Philharmonic matinee entitled “Johann Strauss Concert” was performed. Taking place in the middle of the war, many regarded this as an expression of Viennese individuality, but it was also misappropriated for the national-socialistic propaganda of the “Großdeutscher Rundfunk”. Clemens Krauss conducted these concerts until the end of the war. In the years 1946 and 1947, Josef Krips (1902-1974) replaced Krauss, who returned in 1948 after the expiration of his two year conducting ban which had been imposed by the allies, and who conducted seven more New Year’s Concerts until 1954.

Clemens Kraus

The international popularity of the New Year’s Concert may create the impression that the orchestra’s performance of the music of the Strauss dynasty extends back to Johann Strauss, Sr., und therefore to the beginning of the orchestra’s history. In fact, however, for an extended period of time, the Philharmonic generally ignored the most “Viennese” music ever written. Probably the musicians did not wish to jeopardize the social advancement they had experienced upon the introduction of the Philharmonic concerts by associating themselves with “popular music”. This attitude toward the Strauss dynasty changed only gradually. One determining factor for this reassessment was that the members of this unique family of composers enjoyed the highest respect among major composers such as Franz Liszt, Richard Wagner and Johannes Brahms. In addition, the Philharmonic musicians themselves had several direct encounters with Johann Strauss, Jr., which provided them the opportunity to observe the significance of this music and experience first-hand the charismatic personality of its creator, which had enraptured all of Europe. (by http://www.wienerphilharmoniker.at)

ViennaConcertHall

And here´s the New Year´s Concert from 1991, conducted by Claudio Abbado (the second and last time).

The regularity of the Vienna New Year’s Day Concert is almost matched these days by the regularity of the appearance of the CD recording some five or six weeks later. This year, mindful of the year’s major musical obsession, the programme departs from convention by including some Mozart dances, notably the captivating Schliitenfahrt (“Sleigh ride”). Schubert gets a look in, too, though I’m not convinced that Bruno Maderna’s modernistic touches in the first of the D735 Ecossaises are really in keeping with the occasion. Give me the delightful version by the Willi Boskovsky Ensemble (Vanguard/Pinnacle (0 VCD72016, 9/90) any time!

Booklet02

For the rest, there is a commendable quota of less hackneyed but highly attractive items, with contributions from all four major members of the Strauss family and Joseph Lanner. The presentation of the two themes heard in counterpoint towards the end of Johann’s Waldmeisler Overture is hauntingly done, and the waltzes by Lanner and Josef Strauss are among their respective composers’ best. The one major curiosity is the Carmen-Quadrille, arranged by Eduard Strauss on themes from Bizet’s opera. Abbado tried something similar a couple of years ago, with Johann’s Quadrille on Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, but I don’t think he really succeeds any more now than then in making the result sound convincing as a dance.

Booklet05A

Generally Abbado’s performances are lively and free from conventional mannerisms, if also slightly free with the rhythms and dynamics. The recorded sound is a shade raw, especially in so far as the percussion is rather prominent at times, but no doubt that is considered an appropriate representation of the occasion. I’ve been spoilt recently by hearing the reissue of Carlos Kleiber’s 1989 concert, which I’d recommend to anyone wanting a single New Year Concert. But those who enjoy hearing An derschOnen, blauen Donau and the Radetzky-Marsch year after year will need no encouragement to obtain this latest offering. (by Gramophone, 4/1991)

BackCover1

Personnel:
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado

Booklet01A

Tracklist:
01. Waldmeister Ouverture (Johann Strauss) 9.26
02. Kontretranz Kv 609 No. 1 (Mozart) 0.57
03. Kontetranz Kv 609 No. 3 (Mozart) 1.18
04. Deutscher Tanz (Mozart) 2.40
05. Die tanzende Muse (Josef Strauss) 4.05
06. Polka (Schubert) 1.39
07. Galopp (Schubert) 1.33
08. Die Werber (Lanner) 7.20
09. Seufzer-Galopp (Johann Strauss) 1.51
10. Aquarellen (Josef Strauss) 7.51
11. Freikugeln (Johann Strauss) 2.29
12. Carmen-Quadrille (Eduard Strauss) 4.58
13. Kaiser-Walzer (Johann Strauss) 10.43
14. Furioso- Polka (Johann Strauss) 2.15
15. Stürmisch in Lieb’ und Tanz (Johann Strauss) 2.09
16. An der schönen, blauen Donau (Johann Strauss) 9.29
17. Radetzsky-Marsch (Johann Strauss) 3.24

CD1

*
**

AlternateFrontCover

Alternate frontcover

Ivo Pogorelich (LSO – Claudio Abbado) – Piano Concerto No. 1 (Tchaikovsky) (1986)

FrontCover1Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23, concerto for piano and orchestra by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The work is particularly famed for the sequence of pounding chords with which the soloist’s part launches the first movement. The piece premiered in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 25, 1875.

Possessing limited piano skills, Tchaikovsky wrote the concerto intending to persuade a colleague to give the premiere performance. He first approached Nikolay Rubinstein, a pianist and the director of the Moscow Conservatory at which Tchaikovsky taught. Rubinstein condemned the work as badly written and refused to play it unless substantial changes were made. Tchaikovsky Tchaikovsky1declined to revise the piece and offered it instead to the German virtuoso Hans von Bülow, who, finding more to admire than had Rubinstein, agreed to perform it. The premiere, given during an American tour, was an immediate success, and the piece soon became equally popular in Europe. In the face of the new concerto’s undeniable success, Rubinstein withdrew his earlier criticism. He agreed to conduct the Moscow premiere and even made the concerto part of his own repertory.

The first movement opens with a bold horn call heralding a series of powerful chords from the soloist. The strings introduce an expansive theme, which is then taken up by the piano. The second movement, by contrast, is languid, with lighter use of the orchestral instruments. For the finale, Tchaikovsky offers a rondo with various alternating melodies, some of which are heard more than once, and ends by returning to the powerful driven energy of the opening. (by Betsy Schwarm)

Claudio AbbadoThere must be over 100 versions of this concerto in the catalogue by now; though many (thankfully) out of print. I must have heard and owned at least 30 of these over the years; and again half of those did not last the distance. In the end I tend to return to Gilels/Reiner or Richter/Karajan. They are not conspicuously “the best”, but the first is unashamedly virtuosic and the latter rather serious, treating it like a great work of art. Tchaikovsky can take these vagaries of treatment without damage. Too many of the other recordings sound to me like a dozen eggs in one basket.
This is where Pogo and Abbado turned out to be a surprise packet. I bought it from my old habit of filling up a hole in my collection. The pianist was very young then, but already (as I discovered) a bit of a “thinker”. He must have really thought over what he was going to do with this old warhorse on his dash into the big world of recording artists. The result is something very fresh sounding, and although the differences to routine seem slight at each point they occur, eventually they add up to a whole and unusual PressPic1perspective. This is not to be confused with eccentricity. It’s nothing more than placing emphases in novel and unexpected spots. The lyricism is the really strong factor of virtue in this recording. It is clearly heartfelt, not just doodled along, and you can hear it. None of the virtuoso passage stand out as bravura; they are never thundered, but occupy their moment in the logical flow of the whole. Climaxes are musical, a rare accomplishment!
It helps, of course, to have a magnificent instrument like the Chicago Symphony behind you, and Abbado is a very congenial and sympathetic accompanist (I mean this in general: He seems to me the ideal man at the helm in a concerto, no matter who the soloist is).
The recording is also outstanding, clear, transparent and wholly musical.
In any competition for the buyer’s purse this would have a strong claim. The music itself is, after all, a young man’s work (Tchaikovsky was about 35 then and gained his fame precisely through this concerto). Accordingly a young pianist’s view of it can’t be that far wrong, if he retains a sound musical approach and eschews pretences – the very criterion on which so many youngsters fall afoul, whereas Pogorelich is all discretion and superlative music making. So this is serious business: A recording good enough to grace a discriminating collector’s shelves that is lifted by its sheer quality out of the crowd of the many also-rans.(by Jurgen Lawrenz)

Claudio+IvoPersonnel:
Ivo Pogorelich (piano)
+
London Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Claudio Abbado

BackCover1Tracklist:
01. Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso – Allegro con spirito 23.20
02. Andantino semplice – Prestissimo – Tempo I 7.45
03. Allegro con fuoco 6.40

Label*
**

Modest Mussorgsky – Pictures At An Exhibition + Choral Works (Claudio Abbado) (1994)

FrontCover1Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky (March 21 [O.S. March 9], 1839 – March 28 [O.S. March 16], 1881), one of the Russian composers known as the Five, was an innovator of Russian music. He strove to achieve a uniquely Russian musical identity, often in deliberate defiance of the established conventions of Western music.

Many of his major works were inspired by Russian history, Russian folklore, and other nationalist themes, including the opera Boris Godunov, the orchestral tone poem Night on Bald Mountain, and the piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition. However, while Mussorgsky’s music can be vivid and nationalistic, it does not always glorify the powerful and is at times (such as in The Field-Marshal) antimilitaristic.

For many years Mussorgsky’s works were mainly known in versions revised or completed by other composers. Many of his most important compositions have recently come into their own in their original forms, and some of the original scores are now also available.

With scintillating virtuosity in Pictures and Abbado bringing out the Russian color in the gloriously sung choral works, there is nothing routine about anything here.

Abbado has recorded all this music before: Pictures for DG (3/89) and the rest for RCA with the LSO Chorus in 1981 (6/93). The latter was a very good record, and remains thoroughly worthwhile at mid price, but the new live DG recording is even more spectacular, especially in St John’s Night on the Bare Mountain, the original version of Night on the Bare Mountain. Arthur Jacobs, who here provides the illuminating notes, suggests that the American word ‘bald’ is more faithful to the Russian than our term, ‘bare’. Here it certainly brings vividly graphic orchestral playing. Abbado obviously relishes the odd grotesque spurts of colour from the woodwind, and the Mussorgskian ruggedness. The composer’s structural clumsiness is not shirked and the lack of the smooth continuity found in the Rimsky arrangement does not impede the sense of forward momentum; indeed at the close the Russian dance element is emphasized, rather than the sinister pictorialism. (Of course the luscious slow ending is not here at all–that was added by Rimsky.)

ModestMussorgskyThe choral pieces are gloriously sung and again Abbado brings out their Russian colour, especially in the glowing yet sinuous “Chorus of priestesses”. Joshua is made to seem a minor masterpiece with its lusty opening (hints of Borodin’s Polovtsians) and its touching central solo (“The amorite women weep”). This is most eloquently sung by Elena Zaremba and the theme is then movingly taken up first by the women of the chorus and then the men, before the exultant music returns. The performance of Pictures at an Exhibition, like the choral items, gains from the spacious ambience and sumptuous overall textures. It is not, perhaps, an electrifying performance, but it is dramatic in its contrasts and very beautifully played. The refinement and colour of the evocation, so characteristic of Abbado, is most touching in “The old castle”, while “Tuileries” is gently evoked with a flexibly fluid control of tempo. “Bydlo” opens and closes mournfully, yet reaches a strong, positive immediacy as it finally comes close. The chicks dance with dainty lightness; then the hugely weighty lower orchestral tutti and bleating trumpet response of “Samuel Goldenberg” demonstrate the extraordinary range of tone this great orchestra can command.

After the scintillating virtuosity of “Market Place at Limoges” the sonorous Berlin brass makes a tremendous impact in “Catacombe” and Abbado’s tonal and dynamic graduations are characteristically astute; then ‘following a ferociously rhythmic “Baba-jaga” he steadily builds his three-dimensional “Great Gate at Kiev”, losing none of the grandeur of the gentle contrasts of the intoned chorale, with the tam-tam splashes at the end satisfyingly finalizing the effect. A most enjoyable concert: there is nothing routine about anything here. (by Gramophone Magazin, February 1995)

ClaudioAbbado
Claudio Abbado

Personnel:
Berliner Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado
+
Elena Zaremba (vocals on 05.)
Prague Philharmonic Chorus (choir on 05.)

BackCover1

Tracklist:
01. A Night On The Bare Mountain 12.43
02. The Destruction Of Sennacherib 6.00
03. Salammbô – Chorus Of Priestesses 5.10
04. Oedipus in Athens – Chorus Of People In The Temple 3.07
05. Joshua 5.12

Pictures At An Exhibition:
06. Promenade 1.48
07. Gnomus 2.20
08. Promenade 1.04
09. The Old Castle 4.21
10. Promenade 0.34
11. The Tuileries Gardens 1.11
12. Bydlo 2.51
13. Promenade 0.45
14. Ballet Of The Chickens In Their Shells 1.14
15. Samuel Goldenberg And Schmuyle 2.10
16. The Market-Place At Limoges 1.20
17. The Catacombs (Sepulchrum romanum) 2.01
18. Cum mortuis in lingua mortua 2.04
19. The Hut On Fowl’s Legs (Baba-Yaga) 3.28
20. The Great Gate Of Kiev 5.16

Written by Modest Mussorgsky, orchestrated by Maurice Ravel

Sheetmusic*
**