Thomas Hampson, Christian Gerhaher & Florian Sempey Leads CD/DVD Releases

By Francisco Salazar

This week audiences get to experience new albums from great baritones and some rising stars. Here is a look at the releases.

Così fan tutte

The Maggio Musicale releases Mozart’s masterpiece on Naxos. Conductor Zubin Mehta leads the production by Sven-Eric Bechtolf. The recording from March 2021 stars Thomas Hampson, Valentina Nafornita, Vasilisa Berzhanskaya, Matthew Swenson, Mattia Olivieri, and Benedetta Torre.

L’Orfeo

Opus Arte releases Monteverdi’s work conducted by John Eliot Gardiner, which marked his first performance of that master’s first opera. Captured at Venice’s Teatro la Fenice during Gardiner’s acclaimed world tour of all three Monteverdi operas, this semistaged performance features the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists. Soloists include Krystian Adam in the title role, sopranos Hana Blažiková and Francesca Boncompagni, mezzo Lucile Richardot, countertenor Kangmin Justin Kim, baritone Furio Zanasi, and bass Gianluca Buratto.

Don Giovanni A Rock Opera 

Adam Levowitz, a classically trained composer with nearly 40 years’ experience creating music for theater, opera, musicals, and ballet, releases a rock version of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” the world’s greatest opera.

In a statement, Levowitz said, “I’m not touching Mozart’s melodies, harmonies or rhythms. The exquisite score is the same. The arias are the same. But instead of using Mozart’s orchestra, I’m using a rock orchestra, two electric guitars, bass guitar, drums, keyboard and four trumpets.”

Playing on the recording will be the Adam Levowitz Rock Orchestra, comprised of some of the best and busiest professional musicians in New York.

C. P. E. Bach Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu

Passacaille Records will release a new recording of C. P. E. Bach’s oratorio “Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu,”  a work which C. P. E. Bach claimed would “bring me much honor even after my death and much profit to lovers of the art.”

The work will be conducted by Bart Van Reyn and features Il Gardellino Baroque Orchestra and the Vlaams Radiokoor as well as soloists soprano Lore Binon, tenor Kieran Carrel and baritone Andreas Wolf.

Elegie 

Christian Gerhaher’s new album, Elegie, will be released by Sony Classical and features the work of late-Romantic Swiss composer Othmar Schoeck.

Schoeck’s song-cycle Elegie was compared to music ‘from another world’ when it was first performed in 1923 and remains one of the unappreciated wonders of the lieder repertoire. Its 24 songs, accompanied by an ensemble of 15 instrumentalists, trace a narrative of aching farewells, lost love, and fading beauty.

Gerhaher is joined by the ensemble the Basel Chamber Orchestra and conductor Heinz Holliger.

Lunea 

Heinz Holliger’s “dream opera” Lunea (2017), subtitled Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern [Lenau scenes in 23 leaves from a life], with libretto by Händl Klaus, is the Swiss composer’s most complex piece of music theatre to date. It is also a work that continues the sequence of biographical ‘portraits’ delineated in Holliger’s remarkable recordings for ECM New Series.

The new recording showcases Christian Gerhaher, Juliane Banse, Ivan Ludlow, Sarah Maria Sun, and Annette Schönmüller.

Fanny Hensel & Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy – Arias-Lieder-Overtures

Felix Mendelssohn’s sister Fanny is only now emerging as a significant composer in her own right. This new album contains a selection of her Lieder in new arrangements for orchestra, her dramatic scene for soprano & orchestra ‘Hero und Leander’ set to a text by her father, and the Introduction and an aria from her cantata ‘Lobgesang.’ Felix’s concert aria Infelice and the 1st Rome version of ‘Fingals Cave. Together with the Israeli soprano Chen Reiss, the JCOM presents examples of her vocal music, combined with works by Felix Mendelssohn, on CD and in concert.

Figaro? Sì! Rossini 

Alpha releases French baritone Florian Sempey’s album dedicated to familiar and lesser-known Rossini comedies. In addition to Figaro’s famous calling-card entrance aria, Sempey offers a duet from “Barbiere” with mezzo Karine Deshayes, and arias and duets from “La scala di seta,” “L’italiana in Algeri,” “La Cenerentola,” “L’occasione fa il ladro,” and “Le comte Ory.” The album also features Argentine bass Nahuel di Pierro and the Orchestre de l’Opéra National Bordeaux Aquitaine under Marc Minkowski.

Tiffany’s Spellbook 

LEXICON CLASSICS releases the premiere recording of “Tiffany’s Spellbook” featuring soprano Tamara Wilson and pianist Justina Lee performing the world premiere recording of the song cycle “Tiffany’s Spellbook” by composer Evan L. Snyder.

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