… are the personages in this "Christmas Cantata" written in 1712 for performance at the Vatican. The notes with the CD suggest a burden of historical and political allusions in the libretto, quite interesting in their way but utterly imperceptible to modern ears. Really, the recitativos and arias of Caldara's Vaticini di Pace sound remarkably like Handel - the same broad but expressive melodies, the same robust instrumental accompaniment, the same treatment of the voice as a thing apart from the instruments, so unlike the hard-to-sing instrument-like vocal lines of JS Bach. To listeners of 1712, of course, it would have been vice-versa, Handel who sounded like Caldara, since Caldara was fifteen years older and well established.
Switching to Arista Records in the U.S., Eurythmics made their last album together with We Too Are One, and they went out in style. Calling upon a broad pop range, their seventh album was their best since Be Yourself Tonight in 1985. The sound was varied, the melodies were strong, and the lyrics were unusually well-crafted. In retrospect, the album can be seen as a dry run for Annie Lennox's debut solo album, Diva (1992); songs like "Don't Ask Me Why" (which grazed the U.S. Top 40) serve as precursors to the dramatic ballads to come. There is, however, an air of romantic resignation throughout We Too Are One, appropriate to its valedictory nature. The disc spawned four chart singles in the U.K. and returned Eurythmics to number one in the album charts, but it did not substantially improve Eurythmics' reduced commercial standing in the U.S., confirming that it was time for Lennox and Dave Stewart to pursue other opportunities.
From an early age Max Bruch had enjoyed the ideal conditions for becoming a composer: his family had considerable cultural awareness and gave him all the support he needed. He had already composed not only a (lost) symphony but a significant proportion of his chamber music while still a student. The two youthful String Quartets Op.9 in C minor and Op.10 in E major show a Romantic exuberance poured into classic and classical moulds. The members of the ISOS Quartet — Isabelle van Keulen, Katharine Gowers, Vladimir Mendelssohn and Imke Frank — know each other from several important summer festivals as Lockenhaus and Kuhmo. As their CD debut, they recorded both string quartets by Max Bruch exclusively for Koch International Schwann.
Otello (Naples 1816)…has a strong cast, headed by Carreras's searingly noble Moor. The Desdemona is Frederica von Stade: chaste and as luminous as a sculpture in Carrara marble. The set also displays casting in depth. In Rossini's day Naples was awash with great tenors, a situation that nowadays creates prodigious difficulties. Yet both the Iago, Gianfranco Pastine, and the Rodrigo, Salvatore Fisichella, emerge with honour, barely bloodied and never for a moment bowed by Rossini's terrible arsenal of vocal effects. ''They have been crucifying Otello into an opera,'' wrote Byron in 1818. Well, yes and no. By all means treat Acts 1 and 2 as flashy rodomontade, but Act 3 is glorious, inspired enough and sufficiently close to Shakespeare to have been a near fatal deterrant to what Verdi called his own ''chocolate project''. I thrilled to it afresh—off-stage Gondolier and all—in these brilliant new CD transfers. (Richard Osborne, Gramophone)