Essentials

Essentials

by BRIAN KELLOW, TRISTAN KRAFT

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Shaham and Previn at a 1993 recording session
© Clive Barda/ArenaPAL 2014
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Troyanos as Charlotte at the Met, 1979
© Beth Bergman 2014
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© Amy R. Sperling 2014

Essential Korngold Instrumental Recording:   Violin Concerto, Gil Shaham, soloist, André Previn conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. This exquisitely lyrical piece had its premiere in 1947, with Jascha Heifetz and the St. Louis Symphony, led by Vladimir Golschmann. It's partly based on recycled themes from some of Korngold's film scores, including the magnificent one he wrote for Juarez (1939). While Korngold's film work often seems too elevated for the material it was applied to (King's Row, from 1942, comes to mind), his perfumed Romanticism seems right at home in this sublime concerto. Shaham's rich, round tone, superb command of dynamic contrast and impassioned interpretation make this a performance to remember. Released by Deutsche Grammophon, 1994. Red Spacer 1213 Read "Out of the Shadows," Eric Myers's essay on Korngold's Tote Stadt, "Out of the Shadows." 

Essential Werther recording:  Tatiana Troyanos and Alfredo Kraus on Warner Classics. Sure, Werther is blissful at times, but Michel Plasson and the London Philharmonic find all of the work's eeriness and foreboding in this 1979 release. In the letter scene, Troyanos's emotional commitment overpowers her rounded, less-thanprecise French diction: she sounds truly horrified, and she trembles on "frémiras." Pride and angst reach their apex in Kraus's "Pourquoi me réveiller": try and deny yourself the goose bumps. Red Spacer 1213 William R. Braun investigates why Massenet matters, "Four Reasons to Love Massenet." 

Essential Philadelphian:  Anna Moffo. The list of people who have taken potshots at the City of Brotherly Love ranges from W. C. Fields to playwright David Ives (whose brilliantly funny "The Philadelphia" captures life in the city where nothing ever goes right.) But in Philadelphia's enviably rich cultural history, Anna Moffo stands out. She was born in Philadelphia, on June 27, 1932, and raised in Wayne, PA. She was educated locally, at Radnor High and the Curtis Institute of Music. Moffo went on to become one of the most widely known sopranos of her time, via appearances on the world's great opera stages, on television and in the movies. In later years, she was known primarily as a New York personality — but her early years are still a justifiable source of pride among music-minded Philadelphians. Red Spacer 1213 See David Patrick Stearns's article on Philadelphia's recently transformed opera life, "The Philadelphia Story." 

Essential "Ah! non credea mirarti" interpreter:   Maria Callas. Thanks to the evanescent recording rights for broadcast performances and — giving credit where credit is due — to Callas's artistry, there's a veritable garden of her "Ah! non credea" recordings. Several stem from 1957 live recordings with Antonino Votto and the chorus and orchestra of Teatro alla Scala (one of them, Testament SBT2 1417, pictured). In Callas's interpretation, the lines "ma ravvivar l'amore / il pianto mio, ah no, non puo" seem to contain all the highs and lows of human emotion — hope, abject sadness, happiness, resignation. It's the sound of real-life heartbreak, not opera heartbreak. Red Spacer 1213 David J. Baker profiles the artists now singing "Ah! non credea," in "Sleeping Beauties." spacer 

BRIAN KELLOW, TRISTAN KRAFT

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Current Issue: December 2014 — VOL. 79, NO. 6