Caterina Cornaro was written in the extremely productive last period of Donizetti's life (between Don Pasquale and Linda di Chamounix) and was the last of his operas to be premiered in the composer’s lifetime. Like every other work of this period, it is intensely original, in this case being unusually dark in both subject matter and general musical tone. This is the only opera of Donizetti’s later period not to have had a quality modern recording.
With so many fine-to-great Messiah’s already available, who stands to benefit from this lackluster, hardly serviceable offering? William Boughton’s conducting is pedestrian at best–the performance lumbers along politely, ignoring every one of Handel’s many opportunities to soar. This is especially excruciating in the choruses: rarely have “And he shall purify”, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates”, and “Let all the angels of God worship him” not to mention “Hallelujah” advanced with such leaden, dispassionate propriety.
Soprano Greta Bradman has selected a touching programme of pieces that root her to her family, from “O Waly, Waly” and “Songs My Mother Taught Me” that transport her to the farm where she grew up, to memories of her grandmother through “The Last Rose of Summer”. “Every Day Is A Rainbow Day For Me”, written by Greta’s grandfather, the great cricketer Don Bradman, for his wife, is a particularly charming moment, and performed in a magical arrangement. A joyful album from start to finish.
Star violinist Christian Tetzlaff performs Béla Bartók’s (1881–1945) two masterpieces in a new recording with Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hannu Lintu. This recording continues both artists’ highly successful series of recordings on Ondine.
Janis backed by one of the greatest symphonies ever assembled (the 50's/60's Chicago Symphony under the baton of the micromanaging Fritz Reiner) put together in short a legendary and frenzied performance of the Rachmaninov Concerto No. 1. I wish I could stop there, but unfortunately this recording was coupled with a stale performance of the No. 3.