… 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.
When at last it was revealed what Mahler’s final intentions were regarding the ordering of the inner movements of his 6th Symphony, 90 years of theory, history, & performance practice went right out the window. For theorists, it altered the harmonic structure of Mahler’s A minor Symphony. For historians, it modified the meaning of Mahler’s “Tragic” Symphony. For players & conductors, it changed the musical progress of Mahler’s 6th Symphony. For listeners, it made Mahler’s deepest & darkest symphony even deeper & darker. With the achingly nostalgic Andante moderato now coming before the bitingly bitter Scherzo, the triumph of the opening Allegro energico sounds even more hollow & empty & the collapse of the closing Allegro moderato sounds even more final & total.
Rory was never a man to sit back and let the world slip by. The 70’s saw him release 10 albums in as many years, work with a great many of his heroes and tour the world. Although his recorded output in the 1980’s was more sporadic he still toured constantly, playing some of the first rock gigs behind the iron curtain as well as cementing his live reputation in Europe and the US. ‘Defender’ his third album of the 80’s, was the first release on his own label. Capo offered him the complete artistic freedom he needed, enabling him to produce the music as he wanted. He admitted “I’m not that organised, but I want anything that I’m doing to be under control, and I want the final say on things”.
With over 30 of Handel’s operas awaiting a first CD recording, it seems indecent luxury to find two splendid new recordings of Ottone, a work in the vanguard of the German Handel opera revival in the 1920s, but long since relegated to obscurity. Both benefit immensely by being based on stage performances, Nicholas McGegan’s from the Göttingen Handel Festival, of which he is artistic director, Robert King’s from a production that successfully toured the UK and Japan. Broadly speaking, McGegan’s reading is distinguished by a compelling sense of drama and a wonderful feeling for Handelian style, sometimes at the expense of tonal beauty; King’s is smoother, occasionally letting the dramatic impetus flag, but offering playing of consistent strength and fine shading. McGegan, however, fields the marginally more convincing team of singers, led by Drew Minter, whose pure bright tone, breathtaking coloratura and ardent delivery give pleasure at every hearing; Bowman, for King, sings with sensitivity but his mannered tone and technical limitations are serious drawbacks. Conversely, Dominique Visse, for King, with his inimitable reedy timbre and impeccable musicianship, is matchless as Ottone’s rival in kingship, Adelberto, fine as Ralf Popken is for McGegan. Of the female roles, Claron McFadden produces a stream of radiant tone as Teofane; but so does Lisa Saffer, who, in addition, offers a wider range of colour. Both sets are recommendable, but Minter’s charismatic performance, Saffer’s deeper perceptions and the inclusion of arias Handel wrote for later revivals tip the balance in favour of McGegan. Whatever your choice, it’s an opera not to be missed. (Antony Bye)
Japanese release featuring modern eclectic Japanese acts covering the finest that German electronic Pioneers Kraftwerk ever created. Includes Buffalo Daughter doing the legendary 'Autobahn', plus interpretations of 'It's More FunTo Compute' and 'Showroom Dummies'.