For this selection of new classical music CDs we spotlight some vocal works: some Baroque Italian music (sacred and secular), and a post-Romantic opera.
Pelléas et Mélisande, Debussy. Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and soloists.
“Debussy’s only completed opera, Pelléas et Mélisande, is widely considered to be one of the 20th century’s greatest. His setting of Maurice Maeterlinck’s love triangle between Mélisande, Golaud, and his younger half-brother Pelléas, creates a distinctive and tense atmosphere – a world of ambiguity, darkness and light, life, death and love; all underpinned by Debussy’s complex and subtle harmonies, and expressive use of orchestral colour” (back cover).
Catharsis. Performed by Xavier Sabata.
Startling cover. “Around the year 1600, a group of Florentine aristocrats, inspired by ancient Greek drama, gave birth to opera. They set out to glorify human passions in such a strong way that the spectator’s soul would be cleansed. This was a process that Aristotle called catharsis. In a fascinating program featuring works by works by Orlandini, Conti, Torri, Vivaldi, Handel, Hasse, Caldara, Sarro and Ariosti, countertenor Xavier Sabata, accompanied by George Petrou and Armonia Atenea, captures these moments at the heart of legendary heroes of Baroque opera” (amazon.com).
Vespers 1610, Monteverdi. Performed by the Dunedin Consort.
Fully titled: Vespro della Beata Vergine. Recorded at the Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh, this performance – corralled by John Butt – concentrates its focus on some super vocal soloists, and features the wonderful His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts. Butt and the Dunedin Consort pay particular attention to getting the details of pitch and instrumentation spot-on, and as historically accurate as possible.