Skip to main content
Read page text

Editorial ~

ere is no denying the extraordinary golden age for singers through which we are living. When this month's cover artist sang the Handel Largo ("Ombra mai fli") at last year's Gramophone Awards, the sound of jaws dropping in disbelief was almost audible, as was the rustle of record executives reaching for their cheque books and standard contracts. Andreas Scholl is a perfect example of young talent recognized by the enterprising A&R of an independent and nurtured by that company - Harmonia Mundi - to the extent that it is not difficult to imagine him becoming a household name. That this has happened to a countertenor is pretty remarkable and in no small part a tribute to the quite amazing quality of his voice, a quality that has allowed him to surmount the usual 'problems'people have with falsetto voice production.

As a countertenor Scholl is out front (though there are a couple more, newly signed by major companies, waiting in the wings) but as a representative of the younger of generation of singers, he is one of an extraordinarily talented group. Just last month we were drawing attention to Ian Bostridge's Schumann recital for EMI and now, in identical repertoire, along comes Matthias Goerne. Elsewhere in this issue we review another highly promising young baritone, Stefan Genz. Song is definitely the art-form that is currently occupying the attention of the younger generation and above all it conveys personality - both individual and musical- with a directness that speaks to the audience. We may be passing through a relatively conductor-light age but we are certainly not short of singers.

The other group of musicians now firmly back in the limelight are composers and never before has there been such a range and variety of music offered under the umbrella term 'classical'. Film music has, probably more as a result of marketing strategy than any aesthetic motive, become an extension of the 'classical'world (after all the tools are more or less the same), and few classical music devotees have a major problem with such a newcomer to the block. It is of course one of the most direct routes - short of writing advertising jingles - to reaching a mass audience. This month we talk to best-selling film composer John Barry, whose music-making has taken him into the world of concert pieces. John Williams has moved from the sphere of film to the world of the concert-hall with some success and in the past many composers moved relatively easily between the two worlds- think of Rozsa Korngold or Herrmann.

A new territory for many 'classically' inclined music lovers is that of World Music, indigenous music from around the worl.d. We are all familiar with the well-rehearsed examples of composers being entranced by the sounds of other cultures: both Debussy and Britten succumbed to the music of the gamelan. But to make the attempt to understand these exotic sounds often requires some more detailed research. This month we look at a very specific type of music, that of Sufism, a branch of Islam that can be found in all the Moslem nations, including North Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent, as well as the Far East. One of its highest profile exponents was the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, a musician who came as close to achieving a following far beyond his particular type of music as anyone, with the possible exception ofRavi Shankar. That he was supposed to be duetting with Pavarotti this year shows just how far the idea of crossover can reach. Whilst I don't expect that readers who like nothing more than to sit down and listen to a Haydn string quartet will be rushing out to buy discs ofIndonesian Sufi music, I do strongly recommend opening the mind and ears to other cultures and trying something new (it is I suppose the musical equivalent of visiting the local Szechuan restaurant for a change [rom the routine). World Music seems to be the reservoir into which composers from all walks of musical life dip to refresh their various and varied languages. Gramophone has always taken a very broad view of the music we discuss and this issue of the magazine probably ranges more widely than any for a very long time ~

Editor's choice

James Jolly selects


ten outstanding CDs from this month's reviews

"Le Voyage Magnifique"

Schubert Impromptus Pires DG Instrumental reviews Page 66


Schubert· Impromptus

Ades Living Toys Ades,

Stenz, Cleobury et al EMI Debut Chamber reviews Page 62



'~ ~"""~ (IoIIIoBoI". ot ~

Bach Cantatas for Alto

Scholl; Collegium Vocale / Herreweghe Harmonia Mundi Choral and song reviews Page 71

Bax Chamber works

Rngerhut; ASMF Chbr Ens Chandos Chamber reviews Page 62

Bruckner Symphony

No.2 Nat SO of Ireland / Tintner Naxos Orchestral reviews Page 48

Mahler Symphony NO.5 RPO/Gatti

Conifer Classics Orchestral reviews Page 54

Rautavaara Vigilia Rnnish

Rad Chbr Ch / Nuoranne Ondine Choral and song reviews Page 76


, ' ) .. . ' \r

Schumann Dichterliebe.

Liederkreis Goerne; Ashkenazy Decca Choral and song reviews Page 76

"The Mystery of the

Cross" Victoria Lamentations The Sixteen / Christophers Collins Classics Choral and song reviews Page 83

"My World"

Gheorghiu; Martineau Decca Choral and song reviews Page 83

Gramophone May 1998 1

My Bookmarks

Skip to main content