Now playing

Now playing

Just some things I've been listening to (in those rare moments when I'm not at Otello). None of it very new.


William Christie and Emmanuelle Haïm might be among my favourite pin-ups, but when it
Janet
  comes to Dido & Aeneas it
seems I am an old  fashioned girl after all. This 1961 recording is my
third so far and it's by far the closest to my imagined ideal. You
would not believe that this was Janet's first ever operatic recording,
she's stunning. Patricia Clark is a lovely Belinda. Aeneas is cast as a
bass baritone! Massively inauthentic, of course — yawn — but I confess,
I like it. If nothing else it makes him sound a bit less whiny. (I have
never liked Aeneas. In any incarnation.) And the overall spirit and
sound of this Dido is just plain excellent. It sounds like the Dido in
my head. Only better, as you'd expect. Besides, though one hates to be
chauvinistic — and even though Véronique Gens is divine in every
language — I do sort of prefer my Purcell without a French accent.
Désolée.

Sticking with early English loveliness, I have
finally had a chance to hearMark this, Mark
Padmore's disc of Dowland lute
songs. Eat your heart out, Sting*; this is quality. I'm starting to
think that wonderful lutenist Elizabeth Kenny might be a good luck
charm. She's on Carolyn Sampson's astounding Purcell disc too. I do
love these songs, some of which I've known since childhood, courtesy of
Kathleen Battle's and Christopher Parkening's Pleasures of their Company. As for Mark, he is his dreamy self. Craig Ogden's guitar solo in the middle (Britten's Nocturnal, variations on Dowland's Come, heavy sleep)
is a delight too. And as it's a Hyperion release, there's a nice
painting on the cover; rather than a photo of Mark looking like a
vagrant, as on his Handel arias.

 Something which has been around for quite a while, but which I only recently acquired, isJennifer Jennifer Larmore's L'Etoile, her
disc of French arias both familiar and un. Lately Jennifer's been a
mixed bag for me but this recital represents the Jennifer I know and
love — her stately, shapely tone and impassioned delivery. It is always
a good sign if I find myself actually interested in a rendition of "Mon
coeur s'ouvre à ta voix." Her Berlioz is great as well, and she amuses
herself greatly in the Chabrier novelty track. She also manages a
touching but non-saccharine "Connais-tu le pays", which deserves
another pat on the back. I meant to buy this CD years ago and then
never did. So pleased I finally have it.

 I've only listened to
this pair of Zelenka discs — his RequiemZelenka1 and the oratorio I Penitenti al Sepolcro del Redentore
— once each, so have little toZelenka2 say. Obviously
they're beautiful. But the main point of interest (for me, at any rate)
is that they contain a twenty-one year old Magdalena Kozena. Before she
was a star, before she was Lady Rattle (yes, I know she isn't actually
Lady Rattle), before she was anything other than a wonderfully
promising contralto. She's excellent. Speaking of Magdalena, I've just
seen tonight that she has a new one (recital disc, that is) on the way.
Songs My Mother Taught Me (oh,
come on, she had to do it some time), a collection of Czech songs she's
known since childhood. Given that her first disc of Czech songs is
still one of the most fantastic things she's ever done, I'm very much
looking forward to this. It even has Dorothea Roeschmann on it — how
could it go wrong?

*The best line by far in the otherwise underwhelming Jam and Jerusalem
was Jennifer Saunders' snobbish character recounting a party at
Madonna's. "It was a lovely evening. Until Sting played the lute."

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8 thoughts on “Now playing

  1. Yes, you did, yes, she has and yes, you MUST. It’s on Erato with William Christie and Les Arts Flo.
    Arkiv Music link here.
    My Janet preference notwithstanding, it’s pretty fantastic. And Divine Véronique is amazing, as you’d expect.

  2. I. Love. Her. Especially her Mozart arias and the Nuit d’etoiles disc with Vignoles (although I can take or leave him, give me Martineau any day!) Thanks for the link!

  3. Actually I haven’t heard her Chants d’Auvergne. I have the Victoria de los Angeles recording, which is superlative of course. I didn’t even know La Veronique had recorded them.
    Sad. I am sad. Very sad. I seem to be missing an awful lot that I should not be missing.

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