GRAMOPHONE AWARDS SHORTLIST 2019
in D, K19 (actually his second surviving symphony) has charismatic rollicking horns. Every contrapuntal detail of the string sections is delightful in the amiable Andante of the Symphony in F, K19a; rediscovered in Munich in 1981 but perhaps performed in one of Mozart’s public London concerts in early 1765, it signals a significant development of his compositional abilities. JC Bach’s Harpsichord Concerto in D (Op 1 No 6) is played with fantastic touch and élan by Steven Devine; his cantabile playing over pizzicato strings in the Andante leads into an entertaining treatment of ‘God save the King’ in the minuet finale (the 1763 publication was dedicated to Bach’s pupil Queen Charlotte). This fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable journey concludes with Abel’s Symphony in E flat, Op 7 No 6 (published 1764); it is easy to appreciate why this attractive music full of charming passages for oboes and bassoon was formerly attributed to Mozart, whose own manuscript transcription of it has been preserved. Fingers crossed that The Mozartists will produce several more revelatory commemorations over the coming years until 2041. David Vickers (7/18)
Offenbach ‘Colorature’ Les bavards – Ce sont d’étranges personnages. Les bergers – Ouverture. Boule de neige – Allons! Couché; Je suis du pays vermeil; Souvenance. Les contes d’Hoffmann – Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour (Berceuse)a; Les oiseaux dans la charmille. Fantasio – Cachons l’ennui de mon âme; Voilà toute la ville en fête. Un mari à la porte – J’entends, ma belle. Mesdames de la Halle – Quel bruit et quel tapage. Orphée aux Enfers – La mort m’apparaît souriante. Le roi Carotte – Le voilà … C’est bien lui. Robinson Crusoé – Conduisez-moi vers celui que j’adore. Vert-Vert – Les plus beaux vers sont toujours fades. Le voyage dans la lune – Je suis nerveuse Jodie Devos sop aAdèle Charvet mez Munich Radio Orchestra / Laurent Campellone Alpha F ALPHA437 (61’ • DDD) Includes texts and translations
There’s no getting away from the fact that an entire album of wall-to-wall
Offenbachian coloratura, a festival of the chanteuse d’agilité popping high Ds and E flats and even straight Es like they were going out of fashion, is not everyone’s idea of perfect heaven – especially without the context and counterbalance of the complete operettas, most of which now languish in obscurity awaiting a kindly revival. The idea of dipping into a collection such as this (as one might a box of luxury chocolates) would be more realistic to some – myself included.
But the exponent here – Jodie Devos – is a charming and devilishly virtuoso singer and if anyone can make a case for polishing off the entire collection in one sitting it is her. Plus one cannot ever underestimate the influential genius of Offenbach, whose satirical touch, his way with comedy and derision and the obligatory high-kicking buffo elements, is repeatedly offset with the tender and the beguiling. A quiet way of being showy, if you like.
The main thing to say about Devos – and her thoroughly idiomatic partner-infrolic, Laurent Campellone – is that she (and this is a huge compliment) delivers all that is required of her, and more, with the apparent ease of one who knows how important it is to conceal the difficulty. The real kicker with this album is the way in which number after number springs its surprises. The vocal pyrotechnics are artfully designed to make one’s jaw hit the floor.
So Devos kick-starts proceedings with the first of three numbers from Boule de neige (unfamiliar perchance?) in which a ubiquitous Olga tells of an exotic land ‘where the gazelle bounds, where the hummingbird glitters in the golden rays of the sun’ and does so with the explosive glee of a bottle of bubbly that has been vigorously shaken. Her first D above top C is delivered. Then there is Vert-Vert and a wonderfully cynical number in which the show-off chanteuse – this is a song about a singer – brazenly mocks her uncultivated audiences while handing out the poppingcandy they so crave.
From a clutch of waltz songs are two that caught my ear: one from Un mari à la porte and another from Robinson Crusoé, both eminently catchy and high-wire brilliant. The tunes are, of course, delicious and after one hearing I can’t get the refrain from the Les bavards number out of my head. Personally, because I am a sucker for ballads, my favourites are Elsbeth’s Romance from Fantasio (recently revived in the UK) – one to revisit again and again (a number sitting squarely in the domain of the fully fledged lyric soprano) – and the ‘Romance des fleurs’ from Le roi Carotte, whose vocal line beguiles and charms every which way.
The two big ‘hits’ from Les contes d’Hoffmann are included, of course. I could have done without yet another Barcarolle (Devos joined here by mezzo Adèle Charvet) but hearing Devos dispatch Olympia’s corker of a showstopper – this doll never needs rewinding (or new batteries) – will likely leave a smile on your face for the rest of the day. Edward Seckerson (3/19)
‘Anima sacra’ Durante Messa a 5 voci – Domine fili unigenite Fago Confitebor tibi, Domine. Il Faraone sommerso – Alla gente a Dio diletta. Tam non splendet sol creatus Feo Dies irae – Juste judex ultionis Hasse Sanctus Petrus et Sancta Maria Magdalena – Mea tormenta, properate! Heinichen Alma redemptoris mater Sarro Messa a 5 voci – Laudamus te Schiassi Maria vergine al Calvario – L’agnelletta timidetta Terradellas Dixit Dominus – Donec ponam Zelenka Gesù al Calvario, ZWV62 – Smanie di dolci affetti … S’una sol lagrima Jakub Józef Orliński counterten Il Pomo d’Oro / Maxim Emelyanychev Erato F 9029 56337-4 (76’ • DDD)
Some really excellent concert performances in London – both in recital and opera – have whetted the appetite for the Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orlin´ski’s debut solo release. ‘Anima sacra’ doesn’t disappoint. In fact it over-achieves so hard and so determinedly that sometimes you wish both Orlin´ski himself and his record label would just trust their product and relax into it a little.
It’s hard to get past the album artwork; numerous images of a barechested Orlin´ski swathed artistically in tulle position him firmly as whatever the countertenor equivalent of a barihunk is (countertenor cutie?). It’s distracting and ultimately unnecessary – debasing a performer who, on the basis of this recherché collection of works, is already a serious artist. Yannis François (whose booklet notes have the energy of a man actually in the archives making discoveries) has worked with Orlin´ski to put together a thoughtful collection of little-known sacred works from the second half of the 17th century – including not just liturgical music but also oratorios and azioni sacre – that collide the drama of the opera house with the contemplation of the church.
If Orlin´ski’s marble-cool countertenor brings the spiritual, then Maxim Emelyanychev and Il Pomo d’Oro offer some deliciously secular friction. Nicola Fago’s solo cantata Confitebor tibi, Domine (arguably the best of the eight premiere
42 GRAMOPHONE SHORTLIST 2019