FLOYD: Wuthering Heights
American composer Carlisle Floyd (b. June 11, 1926) wrote twelve operas. His first opera, Snow Dusk, in 1949. Two years later he composed his second, †he Fugitive. In 1955, he wrote Susannah, his most successful opera, and it was performed at the New York City Opera with American soprano Phyllis Curtin in the title role, Norman Treigle as Butch and Erich Leinsdorf on the podium. Other operas followed: Of Mice and Men, and In 1958 he produced Wuthering Heights, an opera with a prologue and three acts based on the classic English novel by Emily Brontë. He wrote the libretto, as he did for all of his operas. It, too, was a success, featuring Phyllis Curtin and Richard Cassilly. It had to compete with Bernard Herrmann's opera, completed in 1950. While Floyd's opera is lovely, it doesn't have a memorable score or the colorful orchestration and drama of Herrmann's version, a recording of which, conducted by the composer, no longer is available. Now we have the premiere recording of Floyd's opera performed by the Florentine Opera This was recorded January 9 and 11, 2015 at the Sharon Lynne Center for the Arts in Harris Theater, Brookfield, Wisconsin. The excellent performance has been recorded in satisfying multi-channel sound, the orchestra close-up, singers further back. Here's your opportunity to hear a neglected opera by a major American composer. The two-disk set includes the complete libretto
Austrian-born French composer Ignaz Pleyel (1757-1831) com,posed profusely throughout his career, but his music has been quite neglected even by early music enthusiasts This fine new SACD, called Hidden Gems, Volume II, offers premiere recordings of three of Pleyel's major works, written in a very familiar style, but full of surprises and unexpected turns. We have concertos for violin and viola, plus a delightful three-movement symphony. Featured are violinist Cornelia Loscher, violist Robert Bauerstatter, and the Camerata Pro Musica under the direction of Christian Birnbaum. Delightful listening throughout, played to perfection. The only debit is that more of Pleyel's music wasn't included—one hour of playingtime isn't very much when doubtless there are many more small "gems" that could have been added,
Pianist Donka Amgatscheva, born in Bulgaria, was a prodigy from the start, first appearing with an orchestra when only ten years old. Since that time she has studied extensively, given numerous concerts and is a member of the Trio d'Ante which she founded. She is a very attrative quite glamosous petite blonde lady who was chosen to appear in some Steinway ads. This SACD is called Appassionata and supposedly all of the nusuc fits that description. While certainly assured, these performances cannot match dozerns of other recordings of this repertory. Excellent, natural sound quality is a plus.
R.E.B. (June 2016)