Live from Salzburg

00028948619290-CvrLive from Salzburg is a new CD featuring music recorded live at Salzburg during the pandemic.  The performers are Elīna Garanča, The Vienna Philharmonic and Christian Thielemann.  There are two sets of songs; Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder (recorded in 2020) and Mahler’s Rückert Lieder (recorded in 2021).  Both recordings were made during live performances in the Großesfestspielhaus.

I like Garanča a lot in this music.  Sometimes I find her a bit “cold” but here there’s a really nice balance of emotion and clarity.  Her articulation of the text is excellent and she sounds good throughout her range.  The lower and middle ranges have a kind of burnished quality; not really dark but definitely not soprano like , while her upper register is controlled and smooth.  The low end is perhaps best heard in Um Mitternacht where she shows real power and depth of emotion.

Continue reading

Moors and Christians

Schubert could write great melodies and he had a real affinity for the voice so one might expect him to have been successful when he turned his hand to opera.  He wasn’t with Fierrabras which wasn’t performed until decades after his death and has been revived seldom since, most recently at Salzburg in 2014 where it was recorded. It’s easy to see why.  The libretto is awful and even if the music were really amazing, which it isn’t but more of that later, I doubt it would have made much impact.

1-knickets

Continue reading

Abstract Fidelio

Fidelio is an interesting piece.  The music is great and it has a powerful, very straightforward, plot.  There are no convoluted subplots here.  But there is a lot of spoken dialogue which slows things down.  Is it necessary?  Claus Guth doesn’t think so and in his 2015 Salzburg production he replaces the dialogue with ambient noise and also doubles up Leonora and Don Pizarro with silent actor “shadows”; the former using sign language in the manner of the narrator character in Guth’s Messiah.  It works remarkably well.  The ambient noise sections are quite disturbing and the “shadows” add some depth, especially the frantic signing in the final scene.  Perhaps worth noting that the “noise” contains a lot of very low bass and precise spatial location.  It may need a pretty good sound system to have the intended effect.

1.room

Continue reading