Cecilia Bartoli, Jonas Kaufmann, Lawrence Brownlee & Michael Spyres Lead New CD/DVD Releases

By Francisco Salazar

This week audiences can experience dueling tenors, two Christmas albums, two baroque albums, two choral albums, and a pianist interpreting operatic favorites. Here is what you can stream this week.

Amici e Rivali 

Michael Spyres and Lawrence Brownlee celebrate the art of the trailblazing star singers of Rossini’s time in a new album for Erato. The recording showcases arias, duets, and trios from seven of the composer’s operas, written between 1815 and 1826. Among the works featured are “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” “Otello,” “Armida,” “La donna del Lago,” “Elisabetta, Regina d’Inghilterra,” “Le Siège de Corinthe,” and “Ricciardo e Zoraide.” The album also showcases special appearances by Tara Erraught and Xabier Anduaga. Corrado Rovaris conducts the I Virtuosi Italiani.

You can find out more about the album in our interview with the two tenors here.

La Vanità del Mondo 

Philippe Jaroussky’s new album with Ensemble Artaserse is dedicated to virtuosic Italian sacred arias from the 17th and 18th centuries, including works from Handel, Hasse, Scarlatti, and more. The album features five world premiere recordings, Handel’s well-known “Lascia la spina,” and an aria of Jaroussky’s first role on stage, Ismaele from Scarlatti’s “Sedecia, Re di Gerusalemme.”

Queen of Baroque

Decca presents a new collection of the very best of Bartoli’s treasured recordings. The recording features musical delights and discoveries of the 17th and 18th centuries featuring two previously unreleased world premiere recordings by Leonardo Vinci and Agostino Steffani. Queen of Baroque also features appearances by Philippe Jaroussky, June Anderson, Franco Fagioli, and Sol Gabetta.

It’s Christmas

Jonas Kaufmann releases his first Christmas album featuring 40 favorites that reflect the many facets of Christmas, from ancient Christian hymns to contemporary pop classics. Among the songs on the album are traditional German holiday songs “O du fröhliche,” “O Tannenbaum,” and “Still, still, still,” and English carols “What Child is This,” “In the Bleak Midwinter,” “O Holy Night,” and “Silent Night.” The album also features “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!,” “Winter Wonderland,” “The Christmas Song,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “White Christmas.”

Kaufmann collaborates with the Mozarteumorchester Salzburg, the Bachchor Salzburg, and the St. Florianer Sängerknaben, all conducted by Jochen Rieder. The album also features harpist Florian Pedarnig and the Cologne Studio Big Band, conducted by Wieland Reissmann with guest artist Till Brönner playing Trumpet and Flugelhorn on two songs.

Casta Diva 

Pianist Vanessa Benelli Mosell turns to the drama of Italian opera for her new album Casta Diva. Decca Classics will release the album, which assembles a collection of popular arias, overtures, and themes from “Norma,” “La Bohème,” “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” “Guillaume Tell,” “Madama Butterfly” and more in virtuosic arrangements by some of the great pianists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of the arrangements come from Chopin, Wittgenstein, Liszt, Thalburg, and Ginzburg.

Mosell noted in a press statement, “I went to see my first opera Boris Godunov at the age of 3 in Florence and was transfixed by the children’s choir of the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. At five, I joined them entering the world of the theatre, performing, rehearsing and living with a pantheon of opera stars and conductors such as Semyon Bychkov, Riccardo Chailly and Zubin Mehta. It was inspirational and it is utterly wonderful to return to this world of opera through the prism of the piano. It is my dream one way to be able to conduct these great operas as well.”

O Nata Lux

The Zurich Chamber Singers under the baton of Christian Erny release an album of Christmas choral music that focuses on the core of the Christmas message. The record includes motets and songs from five centuries.

Heaven Full of Stars 

The London chamber choir Vasari Singers and conductor Jeremy Backhouse release a new album on Naxos celebrating its 40th anniversary year. The new album explores music based on themes of stars, heaven and celestial light, and features works by Bob Chilcott, Eric Whitacre, Cecilia McDowall, Gabriel Jackson, Roxanna Panufnik, Eriks Esenvalds, Judith Weir, and John Rutter.


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