Nicola Porpora, a contemporary of Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and Haydn (and a very young Mozart) is best remembered today as a famous singing teacher and opera composer. During his long career (he lived to age 81) he suffered many employment-related difficulties and disappointments that caused him to move frequently. Naples (where he was born), Venice, Dresden, and Vienna (where he taught Haydn) all enjoyed Porpora's reputable presence, and he even spent a period in London at the behest of a group seeking to unseat Handel and his opera company from its preeminent position. In addition to his operas and vocal music, Porpora wrote instrumental works such as the six violin sonatas featured here, which are drawn from a set of 12. Although anyone familiar with Italian Baroque and early Classical-style solo violin music will discover nothing particularly original on this generally fine recording, if you enjoy that genre and period you'll find much here to indulge and satisfy your taste.
Krenek’s Karl V is the kind of opera that can be appreciated on several different levels. (…) Remarkably, it’s the earliest large-scale opera to use the 12-note system, though Krenek triumphantly refutes the notion that adherence to this technique inhibits creativity and emotional power. The composer’s widow has claimed that this performance, recorded in connection with the Beethoven Festival in Bonn last year, is by far the finest she has ever heard. With wonderful singing from David Pittman-Jennings as Karl and superb commitment from conductor Marc Soustrot and his fine orchestra, there is little reason to disagree with this verdict.
"Vienna" was a kind of Japanese super-group because of inclusion of 4 musicians who used to play in popular prog-rock bands: Yukihiro Fujimura ("Gerard"), Shusei Tsukamoto ("Outer Limits"), Toshimi Nagai ("Afflatus" & later also "Gerard") and Ryuichi Nishida ("Novela" & "Mugen"). What could go wrong with such splendid line-up…
The epic grandeur of Der Rosenkavalier stems not just from its immense length (over three hours) but from the all-too-human complexity of its characters–each of whom is smitten with someone else–and the endless stream of graceful melodies the composer conjures. After the tonality-stretching dissonance of Salome and especially Elektra, Strauss moved onto a different musical path here: the music's sheer gorgeousness has given this most heartbreaking of 20th-century operas its pride of place in the repertory.