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Leoncavallo: La Nuit de mai - Opera Arias & Songs


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1. 1. Sostenuto assai - Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Alberto Veronesi
2. 2. Largamente - Plácido Domingo, Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Alberto Veronesi
3. 3. Vivo - Mouv. de Valse - Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Alberto Veronesi
4. 4. Assai agitato - Plácido Domingo, Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Alberto Veronesi
5. 5. Sostenuto - Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Alberto Veronesi
6. 6. Largo tranquillo - Plácido Domingo, Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Alberto Veronesi
7. 7. Allegro con fuoco - Plácido Domingo, Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Alberto Veronesi
8. 8. Assai Sostenuto - Quasi Adagio - Plácido Domingo, Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Alberto Veronesi
9. 9. Andante Sostenuto Assai - Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Alberto Veronesi
10. 10. Andante agitato assai - Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Alberto Veronesi
11. 11. Largamente quasi recitativo - Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Alberto Veronesi
12. 12. Andante Mosso e Solenne - Plácido Domingo, Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Alberto Veronesi
13. Aprile - Plácido Domingo, Lang Lang
14. C'è nel tuo sguardo (1893) - Plácido Domingo, Lang Lang
15. Hymne à la Lyre - Plácido Domingo, Lang Lang
16. La Chanson des Yeux - Plácido Domingo, Lang Lang
17. L'Addio - Plácido Domingo, Lang Lang
18. Barcarola Veneziana - Lang Lang
19. Valse mignonne - Lang Lang

Product Description

Conductor Alberto Veronesi’s inspiration to celebrate Leoncavallo’s work unites Plácido Domingo, the world’s most celebrated living tenor, with virtuoso pianist Lang Lang. A relatively unknown masterwork recounting the passionate vis-à-vis of a poet with his muse, "La Nuit de Mai" is a romantic symphonic piece for tenor based on Musset’s poem of the same name. Plácido Domingo’s emotion laden tenor is accompanied by a selection of short songs; Lang Lang concludes this novel album with two dazzling solo piano pieces.

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Amazon.com: 8 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A poet's melancholy night in May. 3 April 2010
By S. Erickson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This new release has given me great pleasure. As the first impression, the cover is attractive and befitting the title work. "La Nuit de mai" is a dialogue between a Poet and his Muse, with the orchestra articulating the text for the Muse, and the tenor Poet responding at intervals. The music often conjures up the fragrant breezes of a blooming spring night but there are shades of sorrow reflecting the poet's bitter unhappiness. It is a beautiful night of intense grief. The music is effectively atmospheric and there are passages which can pierce the heart or express great tenderness, bleak loneliness, the thrill of adventure... It's quite the ride and is capped by the Poet's horrified outcry against the personal demands of his art.

Domingo, his voice as compelling as ever, imbues the part of the Poet with an almost childlike openness of soul, inviting us to share in the feelings of disquietude, sharp fear, relief, exultation, adoring admiration, defiant bitterness and unbearable pain. There is something extra special about all his work in these latter years (2007 on this disc). Voice and heart together have become so utterly exposed, so true. A beautiful thing.

I am grateful, too, that Domingo helps bring such rarities as this to light. Why not try something new? Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci" is a very dear, very pungent opera and it keeps its own place, in my affections, alongside all the greats of Verdi or Wagner. Now, having heard "Nuit de mai", I may never hear the opera without a thought for this earlier manifestation of the theme of public demand for the deepest feelings of the artist (whether poet or clown! or singer??). For, the "Entrance of the Clowns" in the opera is taken right out of "Nuit de mai" and the rather brutal association in "Nuit" lends something of tragic horror to the already comic/grotesque clamor as the crowd hails the clowns' arrival. I think the music actually works better in "Pagliacci" but it is fascinating to be aware of its history and earlier imagery for the composer.

Then, for any tenor who may envy Silvio's passionate appeal to Nedda, there is "La Chanson des Yeux" to his music. I love having all these songs with piano: quite a treat to round out the disc. (Puts me in mind of those by Puccini; there is a lovely album of them sung by Domingo, with piano: "The Unknown Puccini"). Domingo makes his sensitive commitment felt in each song, saving the most introspective one for last. A couple of charming, light piano pieces close this wonderful program.

Liner notes include a nice essay and all texts in original language and English.

I just noticed Leoncavallo's I Medici is due to release in June 2010, again with Domingo. Looking forward to that!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A delightful surprise as Leoncavallo spreads his wings beyond Pagliacci 8 Mar. 2010
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
A delightful surprise. The packaging of Domingo and Lang Lang smacks of commercialism, but I doubt that this album would have had a chance without them. If any composer is known solely by a single work, it's Leoncavallo, and even though Pagliacci shows every sign of immortality, it has never been as esteemed musically as its stable mate, Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana. Here, Leoncavallo sounds like a composer with a wider range. The materials of his "symphonic poem for tenor and orchestra" are a series of fervently romantic songs dressed up in luscious orchestrations, with some stormy orchestral interlude in between. About half I would say approach the status of full-blown arias. The prominent use of the mandolin at the outset ushers us into the summery world of Tosti and popular Italian song generally. It all falls engagingly on the ear. I wonder why "Nuit de mai" never enjoyed any real popularity?

Domingo is in amazingly good voice for someone who has morphed himself into a sometime baritone as he ages. But the vocal range here isn't technically taxing (the soaring sixth movement being a notable exception). All but the highest notes are totally secure and beautiful. One marvels at how phonogenic Domingo's voice remains. What's mainly required is a feeling for ardent verismo style, and he certainly possesses that. The singer's commitment goes far beyond a run-through by a star tenor to please his record company. The amorous texts, varying from dreamy to fervent, by Alfred de Musset are delivered in good-enough French, but fluency hardly matters. The soul of this work is thoroughly Italian. Conductor, orchestra, and recorded sound are fine.

The disc is filled out with five songs and two solo piano diversions by Leoncavallo, for which Lang Lang has been drawn in (he had a free hour in his schedule and ,of course, is well known for his abilities accompanying Italian song). These songs are in the vein of Tosti but with a more verismo slant as they heat up. The ardent 'Hymne a la lyre' is especially heartfelt and will make many listener's think agreeably of Chenier's final aria, "Come n bel di di maggio." Lang Lang does a lovely job and ends the album with elegant, restrained readings of a charming barcarolle and waltz.

In all, this is my nomination for the album from which I expected the least and gained the most.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A wonderful symphonic poem by a veteran interpretor of Leoncavallo 19 April 2010
By Abert - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Placido Domingo is a pure wonder.
I remember his Il Pagliacci well - sung with the immaculate Teresa Stratas and Feodora Barbieri.
As 'King of Verismo', PD now ventures into genre of vocal works by Leoncavallo beyond his opera Il Pgaliacci.
The first work in this album is exceedingly well brought out, being recorded in January 2007. PD is in very good voice. You'd not believe that he was already 66 when he recorded this. The orchestra is luscious throughout.
The next bundle is a group of short compositions by Leoncavallo.
I wonder why it has taken DG 3 long years before releasing this album. And one overriding reason is probably because Lang Lang has already left DG for Sony, since it was Lang Lang who accompanied PD in this group of songs, to be rounded off by two short piano pieces, one barcarolle and one waltz.
PD's voice in this group of short songs did not fare as well as in the symphonic poem recorded half a year earlier. Probably, for 'big' voices, to sing exposed solo songs accompanied by a pianoforte is a real challenge (see Jonas Kaufmann's recent daring attempt at the recording of 'Die Schone Mullerin'). And in this group, PD is not aided by Lang Lang.
Still, a rare gem of a recording by one of the most endearing artist of all times.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Poet and Muse 28 Nov. 2010
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Leoncavallo's rarely heard symphonic poem is a dialogue between orchestra and tenor. The concept is a conversation between a poet and his muse and Leoncavallo places the words of the poet in the voice of the tenor and the response of the muse in the purely orchestral interludes. It works well, especially when the tenor is the gifted and always adventuresome Placido Domingo. It seems there are few stones in the tenor repertoire he wishes to leave unturned, and in the case of this work we are fortunate that it found his eye and ear. He sings the poet's verses with conviction and a true purity of tone. The orchestra responds with appropriately sensuous sound - Alberto Veronesi conducts the Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna.

La Nuit De Mai is only forty minutes in length and the remainder of the album is fleshed out with five songs for tenor and piano, and here Domingo tries another avenue in electing to have the young Lang Lang be his accompanist. Lang Lang plays well if not always sensitive to balance. But as is typical of Domingo's sense of propriety he offers the last two works on the album to be piano solos for Lang Lang and here the pianist plays very well indeed. All of the songs - both the accompanied tenor songs and the piano solos - are by Leoncavallo making this a truly unique recording for the collector who 'has everything'. It is a very fine diversion into the lesser known repertoire. Grady Harp, November 10
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful performances of second-rate music 12 Sept. 2011
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I am not sure it is entirely correct to call Placido Domingo's recent rush of recordings evidence of an Indian Summer, but there is really no doubt that he remains in fabulous voice; the tonal control is amazing, the voice glorious, and the nuanced responses to the text beyond reproach. It is also intriguing that he has decided to do some really out-of-the-ordinary repertoire, and I am pretty confident that few expected a company such as Deutsche Grammophon to assemble such a starry cast for such an obscure work as Leoncavallo's early symphonic poem La nuit de mai. I only wish I could be more enthusiastic; I really do.

Leoncavallo's works are, apart from the obvious Pagliacci, still not that well known, yet he was more than a one hit wonder. His opera La Bohème, for instance, was eclipsed by Puccini's and obviously inferior, but still a splendid work, as is his second most often performed work Zazá (I have yet to hear Domingo's recording of I Medici). In short, Leoncavallo's music deserves exposure. Unfortunately Nuit de mai does not really present him in the best possible light. Although it is billed as a symphonic poem, it is really more of a vocal-orchestral setting of a dialogue between Poet and Muse (the tenor takes both parts) in the form of a poem by Alfred de Musset.

It is a passionate work, true, full of sentimentally gushing strings and glittering harps (and mandolins, in fact), but although there is plenty of atmosphere there is little to remember. The melodic material is relatively undistinguished and there is little clear sense of development. In short, this is really a second- or third-rate work, nice enough and definitely worth hearing - but that is primarily for Domingo's contribution, which is really a stunning success (although even I can hear his accent when singing in French, and I don't speak French). The orchestral accompaniment is sensitively done with plenty of color and nuances and even some dramatic impact. The work has in fact been recorded before, on an Accord disc with Salvatore Fisichella and while I have not heard this (and may, in principle, be prejudiced) I doubt it received the same lavish production.

As fillers we get some songs; salon works, for the most part, but once again sung as if they were something far more. Lang Lang, who provides the piano part throughout, does a good job but there is only so much he can really do - the solo piano pieces never rises above the mediocre either, though Lang wrenches every drop of content out of them. Still, this is a worthwhile acquisition; the music is charming if rather empty, and the effort to present it in the best possible light yields intermittently captivating results (and the effort itself is commendable). And then, of course, there is Domingo's singing. So go ahead and enjoy it, but don't expect anything that will change your life or perception of the composer.
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