8 March 2013 at 5.36pm | 1 Comment
George Benjamin’s new opera Written on Skin has appeared on CD just in time for its UK premiere with The Royal Opera. Recorded in performance at the Aix en Provence Festival last year, the cast features Christopher Purves as the duped Protector, Barbara Hannigan’s achingly sung Agnès and the remarkable counter-tenor Bejun Mehta spinning vocal magic as The Boy. Shorn of Katie Mitchell’s fascinating staging, the opera works equally well as an audio experience, with Benjamin’s terse and lucid orchestration ever fascinating. Unusually the set includes a full libretto in English, and has Benjamin’s Duet for Piano and Orchestra as a bonus track. Nimbus have released this double disc at single price – and it’s worth every penny.
Will there be a more important artist recital to emerge this year than Jonas Kaufmann’s new all-Wagner disc? It has 'award winner' writ large on it, and deservedly so. Kaufmann is known in London chiefly in the Italian repertory, but his emergence as a Wagnerian force of nature is very evident in this disc. It’s hard to pick a favourite track as all are in some way exceptional, but he captures the introspection of Lohengrin as exquisitely as he is thrilling as Siegmund. And if you thought the Wesendonck-Lieder were soprano or mezzo territory, think again: Kaufman records them here and instantly claims them as his own. A thrilling recital then, and one for our times.
Joby Talbot has prepared a suite from his ballet Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, handily released in time for the new season of the ballet. Highlights are skilfully woven together, and the suite is coupled with the complete music for Fool’s Paradise. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra plays it all superbly, and it makes for a wonderful reminder of some great nights with The Royal Ballet.