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Che puro ciel: The Rise of Classical Opera - Bejun Mehta

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Conductor: René Jacobs
  • Composer: Mozart, Traetta, Gluck, Hasse
  • Audio CD (28 Oct. 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: harmonia mundi
  • ASIN: B00F65N40W
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 89,646 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
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Product Description

Product Description

In the famous Preface to Alceste (1767), Christoph Willibald Gluck and his librettist Ranieri de' Calzabigi posited a new direction for opera. They spoke of moving beyond Baroque forms, of striving for a new naturalism in opera. They wanted, in Calzabigi's lovely phrase, to liberate the language of the heart. Taken from the height of this Reform period, the arias on this disc reveal composers exploring and experimenting, at struggle and at play, as they create the new forms that bring to opera the noble simplicity of the Classical era.

Review

This is an album that vigorously serves up a compelling cross-section of 18th-century opera: it s music making at its most visceral and exciting (and, if you want just one example, check out track 11, Gluck s Se il fulmine sospendi the reasons Gluck was the Classical era s first great opera composer remain convincingly intact). Mehta is fully in his element, no technical or expressive stone going unturned. And Jacobs draws playing from the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin that brims with energy and nuance, while the RIAS Kammerchor makes the most of their two brief appearances. Highly recommended. --Jonathan Blumhofer, Artsfuse - 20th November 2013

EDITOR S CHOICE 'Always acutely alive to text and dramatic situation, Mehta is equally vivid in two contrasting arias from Gluck s Ezio, one all tender concern, the other heroically flamboyant, with Jacobs and the Berlin period band in no-holds-barred support ... the most enjoyable, intelligently planned countertenor recital to have come my way in years.' --Richard Wigmore, Gramophone Feb 2014

OPERA CHOICE ***** / ***** 'Jacobs s abrupt tempo twists, the instrumentalists boldness and the chorus s power make such ensemble sections as electrifying as Mehta s solos. This is a daring and important retelling of the story of classical opera.' --Berta Joncus, BBC Music Magazine Feb 2014

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The selection in Bejun Mehta’s new solo album with Harmonic Mundi contains works from Gluck (Orfeo and Ezio), Traetta (Antigona and Ifigenia in Tauride), Mozart (Ascanio in Alba and Mitridate), JC Bach (Artaserse) and Hasse (Il Trionfo del Clelia). The contents of this album reflect the operatic music of which W.A. Mozart would have known as a teenager.
First the less good news - the title cut — Gluck's Orfeo, proves the only less-than-compelling piece on the disc. I have listened and re-listened to this track many times to decipher the cause, for I have more confidence in Mehta’s singing as most other reviewers put it. Is it because that this particular part of the role doesn't match Mehta’s best tessitura? Why does his scale works here sounds less even than in the rest of the program? The fact that the solo vocal line constantly sings against a less than well-tuned accompaniment (recorders, I gather) provides not insubstantial obstacle to an accurate perception of Mehta’s singing: there is really no pitch problem with Mehta, just that the constant dissonance with that instrument provides great distraction to the ears of the listeners (listen to the opening introduction before Mehta sings: the dissonance and pitch problem of the recorder is already there). These have a more devastating effect on the perception of the entire album than the producer might have realised.
The better news are that the music contains real treasures like the dialogue between Orestes and a chorus of Furies in Traetta's 1763 Ifigenia en Tauride, with Mehta as Oreste. The rarely heard Traetta, who spent part of his career in musically remote St. Petersburg, are really the biggest find here. Here as elsewhere in this album, Mehta’s variety of attack, musical phrasing and precision in dynamics compel admiration.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
To my ear this is a captivating disc. The voice is so beautiful, so much so, that I have listened to this disc several times over in the few days that I have had the disc. I may not be aware of any technical faults etc. I for one find this incredibly enjoyable and recommend this to any other fans of the counter tenors.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x936b8e28) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x935082b8) out of 5 stars (-) Ambitious album and well performed. 20 Mar. 2014
By Abert - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The selection in Bejun Mehta’s new solo album with Harmonic Mundi contains works from Gluck (Orfeo and Ezio), Traetta (Antigona and Ifigenia in Tauride), Mozart (Ascanio in Alba and Mitridate), JC Bach (Artaserse) and Hasse (Il Trionfo del Clelia). The contents of this album reflect the operatic music of which W.A. Mozart would have known as a teenager.
First the less good news - the title cut — Gluck's Orfeo, proves the only less-than-compelling piece on the disc. I have listened and re-listened to this track many times to decipher the cause, for I have more confidence in Mehta’s singing as most other reviewers put it. Is it because that this particular part of the role doesn't match Mehta’s best tessitura? Why does his scale works here sounds less even than in the rest of the program? The fact that the solo vocal line constantly sings against a less than well-tuned accompaniment (recorders, I gather) provides not insubstantial obstacle to an accurate perception of Mehta’s singing: there is really no pitch problem with Mehta, just that the constant dissonance with that instrument provides great distraction to the ears of the listeners (listen to the opening introduction before Mehta sings: the dissonance and pitch problem of the recorder is already there). These have a more devastating effect on the perception of the entire album than the producer might have realised.
The better news are that the music contains real treasures like the dialogue between Orestes and a chorus of Furies in Traetta's 1763 Ifigenia en Tauride, with Mehta as Oreste. The rarely heard Traetta, who spent part of his career in musically remote St. Petersburg, are really the biggest find here. Here as elsewhere in this album, Mehta’s variety of attack, musical phrasing and precision in dynamics compel admiration. Mehta is dramatically effective and has a beautiful limpid tone in the slower and warmer arias. He also uses the fiorature in the music to good dramatic and musical ends, unlike some of the other up-coming star counter-tenors who employs such mainly for technical shocase.
The rest of the program is also intelligently assembled. Christoph Willibald Gluck, otherwise considered the founder of the Classical style in opera, Johann Adolf Hasse, Johann Christian Bach, are known mostly to operatic specialists. Compared to the flamboyant arias of the late Baroque, the pieces here are less spectacular but more dramatically satisfying. The young Mozart is represented by his early masterpiece Mitridate, rè di Ponto (1770), and the neglected Ascanio in Alba of the following year.
René Jacobs and the Akademie für alte Musik Berlin’s use a fortepiano in one of the Mozart recitatives, which would have been unlikely in 1771, sounds a bit odd, but the performers get the excitement of the music.
Stylistically, the program includes accompanied recitatives, which became a key tool for Johann Christian Bach and Mozart in framing arias. This album contains a bravura da capo aria from the younger Bach's 1760 Artaserse, which offers interesting comparison with Leonardo Vinci’s same aria in his earlier (baroque) Artaserse, which may be heard in the recent release under the baton of Diego Fasolis. Mozart himself is represented by the Act III aria of Farnace in Mitridate, Re di Ponto (1770), one of Mehta's great triumphs in Salzburg and Vienna, and the rarely recorded but fine "Cara, lontano ancora," from the pastorale Ascanio in Alba.
Still five stars, mostly for Bejun Mehta’s singing and the wonderfully assembled programme (if not in the cleverest order).
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93508360) out of 5 stars Wonderful selections, playing, and good singing 8 Jan. 2014
By Matthew Pittsinger - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
The pieces selected here are a real treat -- some well known, others not. The conducting and the instrumental playing are marvelous and inspired, as usual from Jacobs and his crew. The singing is competent, full of thoughtful intent and has moments of real beauty. Mehta's voice is perhaps not what it was ten years ago, it sounds quite difficult for him to navigate the middle to lower portions and the top is starting to have a shrill edge to it. It is still capable of so much grace and beauty, I just do not think these selections are good vehicles for that. I would love to hear him sing some Monteverdi or Cavalli.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9350927c) out of 5 stars a fine voice and fine choice of music 23 Dec. 2013
By Michael Blain - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Mehta presents a different range of music, following on the recent successful countertenor releases of baroque arias. He shows how the baroque idiom of Vinci or Vivaldi and Handel flows on into Mozart and the classical period. His intonation is not always secure, but the artistry is outstanding otherwise.
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