Archive for Gundula Janowitz

R.I.P. Nicolai Gedda (1925-2017)

Posted in Opera with tags , , , on February 13, 2017 by telescoper

I only heard yesterday the very sad news that the fine Swedish operatic tenor Nicolai Gedda passed away on 8th January 2017 at the age of 91.  The news wasn’t announced by his family until February 9th, which explains part of the reason I am so late to post a little tribute. This is from the first recording I ever heard of die Zauberflöte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (made in 1964, conducted by Otto Klemperer) in which Gedda sings Tamino alongside the equally wonderful Gundula Janowitz as Pamina.  This CD played a huge role in getting me interested in Opera, so it is with special sadness but also special admiration that I say farewell to Nicolai Gedda.

R.I.P. Nicolai Gedda (1925-2017)

 

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Frühling

Posted in Music with tags , , on March 11, 2014 by telescoper

I thought I’d post this recording of Frühling (“Spring”) which I heard  on the radio at the weekend; it seems appropriate enough for the season and for the lovely weather we’re currently enjoying. It features the gorgeous voice of Gundula Janowitz,  wonderfully bright and clear like finest crystal. I have so far posted two of the Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss; this makes it three.

Sull’aria

Posted in Opera with tags , , , on June 1, 2010 by telescoper

I’m about to set out on a short trip par avion and I’m not sure how good the wireless is going to be where I’m staying so I might be offline for a few days.  Following on from one of yesterday’s comments about the wonders of Mozart’s writing for more than one voice, I thought I’d leave you with the exquisite duettino Sull’aria from Le Nozze di Figaro. You’ll remember this from the Shawshank Redemption if you’ve ever seen the film, but here it is in a lovely performance from the Paris Opera Garnier in 1980. It’s three minutes of absolute joy.

The End of All Songs

Posted in Music with tags , , on August 1, 2009 by telescoper

I’ve been searching around on Youtube for quite a while trying to decide which is my favourite version of my favourite song. This is Im Abendrot, a poem by Joseph von Eichendorff, as it was set to music by Richard Strauss and published as the last of his Four Last Songs. Strauss wrote the music for this in 1948, just a year before he died.

The poem had a special meaning for Strauss and I think that comes across in the achingly beautiful music he composed for it. The verse is

Wir sind durch Not und Freude
gegangen Hand in Hand;
vom Wandern ruhen wir
nun überm stillen Land.

Rings sich die Täler neigen,
es dunkelt schon die Luft,
zwei Lerchen nur noch steigen
nachträumend in den Duft.

Tritt her und laß sie schwirren,
bald ist es Schlafenszeit,
daß wir uns nicht verirren
In dieser Einsamkeit.

O weiter, stiller Friede!
So tief im Abendrot.
Wie sind wir wandermüde–
Ist dies etwa der Tod?

Although it is basically about death, I find this piece immensely uplifting and joyful.  The setting of the last verse in particular reaches parts of me that other music doesn’t reach. The voice floats freely as if suspended in mid-air over the first line (O weiter, stiller Friede!) while the orchestra gently swells beneath it, heightening the suspense. The voice then soars up and away like a majestic bird over the second line of text (So tief im Abendrot) while the orchestra gathers again. The exquisite countermelody rises up to meet the vocal line and they fly together for a while before the words come to and end and it all eventually subsides into a quiet but wonderful sense of fulfilment and peace.

Music just doesn’t get much better than this.

This is the best version I could find on Youtube, by the relatively unknown Gundula Janowitz recorded in 1973 with the Berlin Philharmonic. I’m not saying it’s the best version that’s ever been done – this piece has been recorded by virtually every soprano worthy of the name and everyone will have their favourite- but this is up among the very best.