Browsing: Art Song

I spent a morning with the great baritone in his Berlin home a couple of years before he died. Fischer-Dieskau was in morose mood. His wife Julia was out teaching, he told me twice, seeming to resent her absence. ‘I did too much,’ he confessed, regretting his dominance in Lieder, a field in which he covered not just German song but English, Russian and French. Still, sometimes too much is not enough. The present release is a 1989 duet recital he gave with his wife and the pianist Robert Höll at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, expecting that it would be…

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Of the two UK finalists in BBC Cardiff Singer of the World last weekend, many felt the English soprano Louise Alder stood a better chance than the Scottish mezzo Catriona Morison. Alder commanded the stage with unfeigned confidence, a breeziness that shines through this, her well-timed debut recording. The repertoire is bold, as well. Songs by Richard Strauss are not for wallflowers. Everything has to be just-so, shimmering on the surface and hinting at Freudian urges below. Alder, who made an opera debut as Glyndebourne’s stand-in Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier in 2014, sounds undaunted by anything Strauss can throw at…

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The texts of this song cycle were written by Sergei Yesenin between 1914 and 1920, a period of world war, revolution and civil war. Yesenin committed suicide in 1925 at the age of 30. His poetry is steeped in religious ritual, village life and bucolic imagery. The music was composed in 1977 by the contemplative, conservative Sviridov, who was born in the thick of Russia’s metamorphosis. His idiom – narrative, tonal, almost static at times – reflects the stand-off between political upheaval and the impervious cycles of nature. The half-hour cycle is sung here in an orchestral setting made specially…

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When the English contralto Norma Procter died a few weeks ago at the age of 89, readers remembered seeing Kathleen Ferrier in her audience at Norma’s London debut, at Southwark Cathedral, in 1948. This was typical Ferrier. Six years before she had been a switchboard operator in Lancashire with no hopes of a music career. Now an international star, she took every opportunity to offer support and encouragement to others on the way up. Hearing that Norma was studying in London with her own teacher, Roy Henderson, Ferrier invited her to stay over at her own West Hampstead flat rather…

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The Kurt Weill Foundation is pleased to announce the fourteen young singer/actors named as finalists for the 20th annual Lotte Lenya Competition: Curtis Bannister (31, Green Bay, WI) Gan-ya Ben-gur Akselrod (29, Tel Aviv, ISR) Felipe Bombonato (28, Gainesville, FL) Molly Dunn (28, South Orange, NJ) Jasmine Habersham (27, Macon, GA) Michael Hewitt (26, Denver, CO) Philip Kalmanovitch (32, Ottawa, ON) Marie Oppert (19, Paris, FR) Tony Potts (24, Fargo, ND) Taylor Raven (25, Fayetteville, NC) Katherine Riddle (25, Annapolis, MD) Lisa Rogali (22, Bergenfield, NJ) Bradley Smoak (32, Cary, NC) Paulina Villareal (27, Torreón, MX) The contestants represent a…

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Montreal, April 4, 2017 – Applications for the next Voice edition of the CMIM (Concours musical international de Montréal) taking place May 27 to June 7, 2018 are now open. Singers around the world born on January 1, 1983 or later are invited to apply by December 15, 2017. The online application form, as well the rules and conditions for participation and the required repertoire are all available on CMIM’s official website at concoursmontreal.ca/voice. Transportation and accommodations are offered to the candidates who are selected, in accordance with the terms of the Competition. Starting in 2018, the vocal competition features…

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This is one of those treasurable major-label releases, made with the best of intentions, in which everything turns out wrong. Mahler wrote The Song of the Earth for high tenor and alto, singing alternate movements. It can also be sung by tenor and baritone if no alto sounds right. The chief requirement is a tenor who needs to sing high and very loud – a Siegfried kind of voice that can surmount the force of full orchestra. This is as much a competition for two soloists and orchestra as a composition. Jonas Kaufmann tells us he has loved the work…

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I hope this is not Renée Fleming’s final record. The American soprano, in her late 50s, is closing her stage career with the voice unblemished and the memories fond. It would be a pity if her legacy on Decca was to be concluded by this album, which plays to all her weaknesses. Samuel Barber’s lyric rhapsody Knoxville: Summer of 2015 requires a rich soprano voice and a capacity to articulate James Agee’s achingly nostalgic English text. Ms Fleming has the first quality. Pronouncing the words has never been her forte. The best ears will strain here to catch more than…

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Let’s get this out of the way: singer and songwriter Lewis Furey has a style like Rufus Wainwright ­– you either like his timbre and affected singing style or you don’t. When the evening of Furey’s Brahms Lieder concert began, I have to admit that I didn’t. His sforzando word play and sporadic British-like accent sapped the melody out of the opening song Wie Melodien zieht es mir, which he translated as Just a Feeling. But after the second song, I started to forget about his voice – the 67 year old Furey doesn’t pretend to be a virtuoso – and began to…

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Pictures of America: Natalie Dessay (Sony Classical) News of a Natalie Dessay release always stirs me to a fevered expectation. The French soprano, now retired from the opera stage, has an extraordinary ability to find character between the lines of a song, even one that is overly familiar or resistant to shades of interpretation. Why, she once won me over to choose a Debussy set as my album of the year… So my curiosity was well and truly piqued when Ms Dessay announced an album of American songs based on her reaction to well-known American paintings by Edward Hopper. What…

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