It is only a short while since I reviewed a suite of dances from Rameau's opera, Nais. Now, hard on the heels of that disc (also conducted by McGegan, Harmonia Mundi, 7/95) comes a reissue of the entire work, albeit with judicious cuts. Nais was commissioned to celebrate the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, and first performed the following year. Thus it was a vocal counterpart to Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks, both pieces marking the conclusion of the War of the Austrian Succession. The present recording was made in 1980 following performances at London's Old Vic Theatre and at Versailles under the auspices of Lina Lalandi's enterprising English Bach Festival.
The St Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1967 by Nikolai Rabinovich, Karl Eliasberg and Edward Grikurov and until 1985 was known as the Orchestra of Ancient and Modern Music. Renowned soloists and conductors, including Yuri Temirkanov, Mariss Jansons, Svyatoslav Richter, and many others, have performed with the orchestra. In 1985 the orchestra was enlarged, developing as the Leningrad State Orchestra under Ravil Martynov and undertaking concert tours of China, Japan, Germany, Austria, Mexico, Spain, Finland, Norway, Sweden, France and Belgium. From 2004 until 2007 the orchestra was headed by Martynov’s pupil Vasily Petrenko. The orchestra’s artistic director and chief conductor from 2007 to 2013 was Alexander Titov, who has recorded significant Russian compositions from the period of the Second World War.
Her first French-language album following the huge commercial success of The Colour of My Love, 1995's D'Eux was Celine Dion's return to her native roots. Produced by Jean Jacques Goldman, her 20th studio album went onto become the biggest-selling French language release of all time, and includes the hit singles "Pour Que Tu M'aimes Encore," and "Je Sais Pas," both of which were rerecorded in English, along with "Vole," for follow-up Falling into You.
Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was an Italian Romantic composer, mainly of opera. He was one of the most influential composers of the 19th century. His works are frequently performed in opera houses throughout the world and, transcending the boundaries of the genre, some of his themes have long since taken root in popular culture - such as "La donna mobile" from Rigoletto, "Va, pensiero" (The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) from Nabucco, "Libiamo ne' lieti calici" (The Drinking Song) from La traviata and the "Grand March" from Aida. His work has sometimes been criticized for using a generally diatonic rather than a chromatic musical idiom and for being essentially melodrama during his early years. He was an atheist. Verdi's masterworks dominate the standard repertoire a century and a half after their composition.
The new production of Purcell's The Fairy Queen launched in 1995 by the English National Opera (ENO) was received with great enthusiasm by both the public and musical press. This atmospheric production was prepared by David Pountney, Robert Israel created the stage set, Dunya Ramicova was responsible for costume design and Quinny Sacks was responsible for the choreography of the dance roles as well as the numerous breathtaking ballet scenes. Under the musical direction of Nicholas Kok, the English National Orchestra played a baroque music which was as crystal clear as it was expressively infectious. Next to outstanding performers of the dancing roles such as Puck (Simon Rice) and the Indian boy (Arthur Pita), an entire armada of excellent singers was summoned up such as one seldom experiences together on the baroque opera stage. These included Yvonne Kenny as Titania, Thomas Randle as Oberon and Richard Van Allan as King Theseus. Jonathan Best, with his comic portrayal of the drunken poet, was loved by the audience and praised highly by the press, while other singers like Michael Chance, Mary Hegarthy, Janis Kelly, Marc Le Brocq and Christopher Ross all contributed their talents to produce an unusual musical theatre experience that has been masterfully preserved on this DVD.