Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Classics snapshots: Count Almaviva goes a-wooing, then and now

Urged on by Figaro (Ross Benoliel), "Lindoro" (Luigi Boccia as Count Almaviva) identifies himself to Rosina (Stephanie Lauricella), with Enrico Granafei playing the guitar and Jason Tramm conducting, at New Jersey State Opera, June 2012. (For English text, see below.)

by Ken

I'd like to think we established the premise well enough in last week's "snapshots" post, "Rosina I and Rosina II," where we heard aural snapshots of young Rosina first as the spitfire being wooed by the supposed poor student Lindoro in the opera Rossini fashioned from the popular Beaumarchais play The Barber of Seville, and then, a mere three years later, as the desolate, pretty much emotionally abandoned Countess Almaviva in the opera Mozart fashioned from Beaumarchais's equally popular sequel, The Marriage of Figaro.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Classics snapshots: Rosina I and Rosina II

Victoria de los Angeles as Rosina II at the Met in 1952

Rosina I
I'm docile, I'm respectful;
I'm obedient, gentle, loving;
I let myself be ruled and guided. But --
but if you touch on my weakness,
I shall be a viper, I shall,
and a hundred tricks
I'll play before I'll yield.
And a hundred tricks, etc.
I'm docile, I'm respectful;
I let myself be ruled and guided, etc.

Victoria de los Angeles (s), Rosina; Orchestra of the Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires), Carlo Felice Cillario, cond. Live performance, June 1962

Rosina II
Grant, love, that relief
to my sorrow, to my sighing.
Give me back my treasure,
or at least let me die.
Grant, love, etc.

Victoria de los Angeles (s), Rosina; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Fritz Reiner, cond. Live performance, Mar. 1, 1952

by Ken

It's not that we've never done this sort of thing before in Sunday Classics. In fact, I like to think we've taken pretty frequent advantage of the oportunity afforded by this peculiar, er, format, to put together any two (or three or more) damned things we want which can benefit from being heard together. Butting together "the two Rosinas," as we've just done, is an idea so obvious that it doesn't seem to occur to many people that it really doesn't get done that often.

Well, here it is.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Fischer-Dieskau and Richter just perform "Schlummert ein" way better than anybody else I've heard

So here's how the cantata begins

BACH: Cantata No. 82, "Ich habe genug":
i. Aria, "Ich habe genug"

-- from the Bach Cantatas Website

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Manfred Clement, oboe; Munich Bach Orchestra, Karl Richter, cond. DG Archiv Produktion, recorded July 1968

Hermann Prey, baritone; Willy Garlach, oboe; Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Kurt Thomas, cond. Eterna-EMI, recorded Dec. 14-19, 1959

Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano; Michael Dobson, oboe; Bath Festival Orchestra, Yehudi Menuhin, cond. EMI, recorded July 1966

by Ken

So a couple of weeks ago I told the story of how suddenly the audio cassette became a medium for music for me: when I listened to a DG-Archive cassette of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's second (1968) recording of the popular coupling of Bach's two solo-bass cantatas, and we heard all three of his recordings of the great central aria, "Schlummert etin," of Cantata No. 82, "Ich habe genug." I warned that we might be returning to the scene of the crime, in the form of taking a shot at hearing the margin of superiority of this not-really-wildly-heralded recording in collaboration with the once-admired (but not so much anymore) baroque specialist Karl Richter, over any other I've encountered.

So here we are.

But first, as noted above, I thought we might hear how Cantata No. 82 begins, with the aria "Ich habe genug." (This is not exactly a coincidence. We know the Bach cantatas by the title, usually the first line, of their opening number.)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

From the Sunday Classics Technology Dept.: When music can sound like THIS . . .

BACH: Cantata No. 82, "Ich habe genug":
iii. Aria, "Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen"

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (May 28, 1925–May 18, 2012)

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Munich Bach Orchestra, Karl Richter, cond. DG Archiv Produktion, recorded July 1968

by Ken

Awhile ago I shared WNYC's New Tech City's "Bored and Brilliant" project, which was aimed at helping smartphonomaniacs get some control over their habit. Judging from the onsite response the project seems to have stimulated a lot of phone compulsives to (a) recognize their jones and (b) take some steps to overcome it.

One thing I tried to refrain from was getting too judgy, even though I probably am pretty judgmental when it comes to the smartphone compulsion and the related "social media" one. As it happens, perhaps merely by some fluke, I don't seem to have any temptation toward either, and really can't fathom what the attraction is. But I try to be careful about judging others, first under the "There but for the Grace of God" precept, but also in recognition of my own technological compulsions.