Anne Sofie von Otter, accompanied by Bengt Forsberg and joined by baritone Fredrik Zetterström for two duets, performs works by four Swedish composers whose works were all composed within a century of each other. These works provide a broad image of the early development of a Swedish Lied tradition and paved the way for the great generation of Swedish song composers, including Stenhammar, Peterson-Berger and Rangström.
A loving tribute to French Song, by one of the greatest voices. With exceptional sensibility and understanding of the French language, the renowned Swedish singer pays a loving homage to French melody and song. Known for her artistic journeys which transcend the borders of musical genre, Anne Sofie von Otter’s collaborations include those with Elvis Costello and Brad Mehldau, with whom she recorded her ‘Love Songs’ album on Naïve.
Rebelling against the increasingly formulaic operas of the time, Christoph Willibald Gluck's "reformist" opera Alceste (1767) was a successful attempt to return to a purer form of musical drama. It is highly appropriate that this 1999 production of the revised 1776 Paris version should be conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, with the English Baroque Soloists and Monteverdi Choir, the same forces responsible for many fine Bach performances equally emphasizing character and text. In setting the tragic story of the profound love between Queen Alceste and her husband King Admète, Gluck provided a score of austere, rending beauty… By –Gary S. Dalkin
“Smart, sophisticated and opinionated, Anne Sofie von Otter has become a star by doing exactly what she wants”
Music composed by Jacques Offenbach, Georges Bizet, Richard Strauss, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, George Frideric Handel, Claudio Monteverdi, Benny Andersson, Elvis Costello, Cécile Louise Chaminade, Kurt Weill, Pavel Haas, Edvard Grieg, Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, Gustav Mahler, Henry Purcell, John Dowland.
This is a worthy reading of one of Massenet's best scores, thoughtfully conducted by Kent Nagano. Anne Sofie von Otter combines intelligence and a beautiful voice with passion and conviction in the complicated character of Charlotte. Tenor Jerry Hadley is occasionally afflicted by a musical-theater tendency to croon but expresses most of the torments of the title role, while Dawn Upshaw makes a better-rounded character of Sophie than the average soubrette.
For the Stars is the kind of record rock critics tend to instinctively praise because they just aren't sure if they get it, and they're afraid to lay themselves on the line. If they pan it, well, they're just junk-addled boors. If they praise it, they risk seeming uninformed, since they don't really know if it works as a classical work or not. The thing to remember is, that these kind of rock/classical crossovers belong to neither realm.
Those who are able to follow Anne Sofie von Otter's live recitals and stage performances will have noticed how much more lively movement and physical definition there is now in the voice. This once noble, but still cool Swedish mezzo-soprano has now begun to reach out to her audiences with a more active will, a more imaginative warmth as her artistry continues to mature.