The work is an extraordinary curiosity; a child of the heady days just before the French Revolution, Tarare is the famous French writer's only opera and one of the Italian composer's rare French scores. First and most strikingly a work of social and political commentary, Tarare is also an entertaining work of theatre. Salieri's music supports these aims admirably and offers a few memorable moments of its own. As an opera form, Tarare defies easy categorization; it may be best described as a comedic satire dressed in the clothes of a sprawling 5 act lyric tragedy, complete with Prologue and a grand divertissement with dance.
IIn his setting of Orlando, Handel offers us a score of remarkable dramatic power, diversity and originality. Orlando s mad scene and slumber aria are among the composer s most striking creations. Everything in the opera arouses admiration the extremely varied scoring, the exuberant vocal writing, the rhythmic invention and the supple melodies. On this new recording from K617, Jean-Claude Malgoire and La Grande Écurie et la Chambre du Roy are joined by a cast of talented soloists in a fantastic production rivaling the best in the catalog.
Serse is a light and elegant comedy. It opens with the most famous of all Handel's arias, the notorious “Ombre mai fu“ (or Largo), quite a different piece when heard in context. Its mock solemnity sets the tone for what follows. The opera moves swiftly and charmingly, the recitatives often interspersed with brief ariosos rather than full-fledged arias. Outstanding in the cast is Hendricks, her voice flexible and distinctive, clearer and purer than it would become (after the tone began to unknit). She sings with great charm. Watkinson is a fluent Serse but doesn't leave a lasting impression. Oddly enough, I enjoyed Esswood's work more.
Giulio Cesare proved by far the most popular of Handel’s operas, both originally and in modern revivals. Its straightforward plot and all-star original cast drew from Handel exceptional depth and subtlety in musical characterisation and lavish orchestral colours; Cleopatra’s seductive stage orchestra – harp, theorbo and viola da gamba with muted accompaniment from the pit – is unique. René Jacobs set the standard in 1991 (on Harmonia Mundi). By comparison, this is milder, more pensive. Bowman is superbly flexible – he seems to become ever more fluent over the years – yet less powerful and imperious than Jennifer Larmore, the earlier.
François-Joseph Gossec’s name is more often found in history books than on record collectors’ shelves. During his long life (1734-1829) he contributed to opera reform in Paris before the arrival and domination of Gluck, was one of the directors of the Concert Spirituel, and wrote 50 symphonies. In old age he became the foremost composer of French revolutionary themes, and the first anniversary of the fall of the Bastille was commemorated with a performance of his Te Deum that featured more than a thousand performers. The Missa pro defunctis initially had more modest origins. Also known as the ‘Messe des Morts’, it was first performed in 1760, and aroused notable reaction due to Gossec’s use of trombones, a novelty at the time.
Agrippina was staged for the first time in late December 1709 - or possibly at the beginning of 1710 - at Venice’s Teatro San Grisostomo and met with enormous success, as testified by twenty-seven following performances, a record number even for 18th-century standards. Agrippina’s triumph sanctioned Handel’s definitive investiture as an operatic composer. After nearly 300 years this opera appears as a masterpiece of 18th-century music and an innovative work, considering that when Handel composed it he was just twenty-four years old. The composer’s melodic creativity and sense of theatre are quite remarkable. The cast, conducted by Jean-Claude Malgoire, includes Véronique Gens in the title role.
The tone poems of Richard Strauss's early career represent a remarkable extension of the ideas of Liszt and Wagner, and the autobiographical Ein Heldenleben exceeds its predecessors in terms of its demands on the orchestra. Its intricately interwoven sections create a single symphonic movement depicting heroism, love, and ultimately peace.
Catone in Utica (1737), written for the Teatro Filarmonico in Verona, is one of Vivaldi’s last operatic masterpieces. Its splendid score, however, has come down to us incomplete: in fact the first of the three acts is missing. With infinite patience, Jean-Claude Malgoire has reconstructed the missing act, realising the recitative passages complying perfectly to Vivaldi’s stylistic idiom and integrating the missing arias with original arias taken from other operas written by the Red Priest. Thus Catone in Utica is at last available, in a world-première recording, in its complete form.
Neukomm spent twenty years in the service of Prince Talleyrand, who commissioned him to write a requiem mass in memory of Louis XVI, guillotined in Paris on 21 January 1793. is was the second mass of the y he was eventually to compose, several of which were dedi- cated to monarchs. e Requiem was given at St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna on 21 January 1815 by more than three hundred singers divided into two choirs. Neukomm conducted one of them, while the other was directed by his friend Salieri.
Mike Patton and renowned French composer Jean-Claude Vannier, who is perhaps best known for his work with Serge Gainsbourg, have come together on the 12-song album, Corpse Flower.