PUCCINI: La Bohème
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 9 in D minor
Estampies & Danses Royales - Le Manuscrit du Roi - ca. 1270-1320 (arr.
Telarc's new live recording of La Bohème is a winner in every way. The six young Bohemians are sung by a uniformly strong cast of voices relatively new to the operatic scene, all are totally convincing vocally and dramatically. We should be hearing more from of them as their careers develop. Norah Amsellem is a vulnerable Mimi, Marcus Haddock impresses as Rodolfo (he was less effective as Don José in the tasteless David McVicar production of Carmen from the 2003 Glyndebourne season (REVIEW). The chorus and orchestra, under Robert Spano's direction, would grace any production of Puccini's favorite. This Bohème was recorded live during performances in the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta in late September 2007. Producers Robert Woods and Elaine Martone have succeeded brilliantly in capturing the sound of a live performance; from a sonic standpoint, this is one of Telarc's finest achievements. Another plus is inclusion of the complete libretto—and the fact that this is two SACDs for the price of one. Don't miss this one!
The exciting young Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Ségun has already recorded Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 with the Montréal orchestra (REVIEW). Nézet-Ségun has been their conductor since 2000 (he now also is conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic). As with the previous release, this new Symphony No. 9 is diminished by a lack of the "Bruckner sound." There simply aren't enough strings, and brass dominates—which some listeners might enjoy. The recording was made during sessions on three days in September 2007 (Symphony No. 7 was a live performance) in Église Saint-Nom-de Jésus in Montréal with engineer Anne-Marie Sylvestre successfully dealing with the church's resonant acoustics.
Admirers of Jordi Savall will find him and his famed Hesperion ensemble in a well-filled disk (72:12) of music written more than seven centuries ago. This music was "rediscovered" in 1907 and much of it has been recorded, but this is the "complete" version. The small ensemble plays on period instruments under Savall's dedicated supervision, and if medieval music appeals to you, this is for you. The gentle sounds have been captured with uncommon clarity, and program notes are profuse.
R.E.B. (September 2008)