Tenor roles are some of the most difficult – and in a way, unnatural – to sing. The placement of the register is odd and often difficult to sustain with beauty while at the same time delivering power. Some – like Plácido Domingo – have migrated downwards to baritone. Others, like Luciano Pavarotti, were born and stuck with it. ‘Tenore robusto’ – robust tenor – is the technical term used to describe the voice-type of that kind of operatic hero. And the latest to showcase it is the Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja.
Joseph Calleja has just released an all-Verdi album with arias from Trovatore, Otello, Don Carlo, The Force of Destiny – all of which represent doomed heroes. Of course, there’s Radames too, the hero of Aida, and this is the sound of falling in love.
Calleja new album is available HERE.
The Orava Quartet – the NSW-born, Queensland-based boy band – has made its first recording – on the Deutsche Grammophon label in Australia – presenting quartets by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Shostakovich. The slow movement of Tchaikovsky’s first quartet went on to become one of his best-loved melodies, and it was allegedly based on a folk song the composer heard at his sister’s house, whistled by the house painter. The words of the song go something like: ‘Vanya sat on the couch, drinking vodka…’. But even the most ridiculous texts have sometimes inspired the most beautiful music.
The Orava Quartet’s new album is available HERE.
The American violinist Hilary Hahn has never provided less than fascinating couplings for her concerto recordings. Not for her Mendelssohn paired with Bruch or Tchaikovsky with Sibelius. Her Tchaikovsky concerto came with a concerto by Jennifer Higdon. Her Mozart Fifth was paired with the Fourth violin concerto of the Belgian composer-violinist Henri Vieuxtemps.
Four years ago Hilary Hahn commissioned 27 encore pieces from a host of composers. In this episode of Good Listening, she tells how it all came about.
Hilary Hahn’s new album is available HERE.
Long before deforestation took hold, long before conservationists implored people to respect nature, Handel wrote an aria celebrating the virtues of the plane tree – the “Platanus orientalis”.
Had Handel lived longer he might have retired on the royalties he would have earned from it, but there was no such thing in his day, and back in 1738 when it was performed as part of his opera Serse (or Xerxes), it was a commercial failure, lasting only five performances in London after its premiere.
But of course, it has gone on to become “Handel’s Largo”. It forms one of several Handel arias handpicked by that outstanding countertenor, Franco Fagioli. His is a voice that’s sensual, velvety, and full of emotional intensity.
Franco Fagioli’s new album is available HERE.
What is it that makes a classic? Sometimes, it simply starts a good tune. And it doesn’t matter whether it belongs to the classical or the jazz or the crossover genre… or anything else for that matter. Sheku Kaneh-Mason’s take on Bob Marley’s classic “No Woman, No Cry” flirts with Bach, and it’s gone viral.
Sheku Kaneh-Mason’s ‘No Woman, No Cry’ can be heard HERE.