Paola Prestini, Sara Blanch, Michele Angelini & Kathleen Ferrier Lead New CD/DVD Releases

By Francisco Salazar

This week audiences can discover new works, archival recordings, and rarely performed operas. Here is a look at this week’s streaming recommendations.

Con Alma 

Paola Prestini and Magos Herrera will team up for “Con Alma,” a new operatic album and live event both launching this December.

The album, which will be released on Dec. 4, was recorded remotely between March and October 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and features classic songs from the Mexican and Jazz songbook. The work will be released on National Sawdust Tracks and features over 30 musicians across three continents including the all-women German-based Ensemble Sjaella, Constellation Chor, the Young People’s Chorus of NYC, Mexico’s Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería, Kronos Quartet cellist Jeffrey Zeigler, Silk Road clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, guitarists Romero Lubambo and Vinicius Gomes, arranger and multi-instrumentalist Gonzalo Grau, and arranger Diego Schissi.


Belgian composer Nicholas Lens and Australian singer and songwriter Nick Cave have written a new piece during the quarantine. Lens noted, “The initial idea for L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S was born in the natural silence that rises from the rainy and vivid green forest that surrounds these 13th-century temples. And because my memory works in musical phrases, writing L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S has become my method of remembering the peace I found while visiting Japan as well.”

Cave added, “Nicholas called me during lockdown and asked if I would write ‘12 litanies’. I happily agreed. The first thing I did after I put down the phone was search ‘What is a litany?’ I learned that a litany was ‘a series of religious petitions’, and realized I had been writing litanies all my life.”

The new recording was very much a DIY affair and the “modest” chamber ensemble involved was mainly composed of people who simply happened to be around Lens during the lockdown. Among the 11‑piece instrumental group who recorded L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S was his artist daughter Clara-Lane, who had found herself trapped in Brussels due to the travel ban.

Kathleen Ferrier: 20th Century British Treasures

SOMM Recordings will release a compilation featuring recordings made for Decca and the BBC between 1946 and 1953 The new album will includes a previously unpublished recording of Kathleen Ferrier’s passionate performance of Lennox Berkeley’s Four Poems of St Teresa of Ávila. The album also includes Frederick Stone, Phyllis Spurr, Ernest Lush, Anna Pollak, EOG Orchestra, conductor Reginald Goodall, London Symphony Orchestra, and Hugo Rignold.

Matilde di Shabran

Naxos releases Rossini’s “Matilde di Shabran” in its original version with a cast that includes Sara Blanch, Lamia Beuque, Victoria Yarovaya, Michele Angelini, Julian Henao Gonzalez, Emmanuel Franco, Giulio Mastrototaro, Ricardo Seguel, and Shi Zong. The Górecki Chamber Choir Passionart Orchestra is led by José Miguel Pérez-Sierra.  The new recording marks the first time the original 1821 Rome version of the score is put on CD.


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