Friday 3 February 2006

Coming to a CD player near you

On Wednesday we went to see Alan Curtis and Il Complesso Barocco performing Handel's Rodelina (a review of which I plan to post soon). In the Barbican shop they were selling the group's recent recording of the opera, so I realised that the concert was not a one-off event but the concert of the recording. This sort of tie-in is inevitable I suppose and we must be thankful that such linkages at least enable us to hear some fine performances. And no, though I considered it I did not buy the recording, partly because cast on the disc was substantially different to that at the concert. In particular, at the Barbican we heard the divine Emma Bell whereas on the recording it was Simone Kermes who had dropped out of the concert.

Besides concerts given to promote recordings, there are other areas where tie-ins occur. Sometimes performances are set up with a view to doing a live recording (Opera Rara do this rather creatively) and then some performances happen simply so that the performers can perform the work prior to recording. At other times the linkage is less obvious until the recording appears. A number of recent ENO performances (a revival of Verdi's Ernani, the new Madame Butterfly) have had the finger print of the Chandos Opera in English in the casting and the conductor so it came as no surprise when it was confirmed that recordings would indeed be made. As long as this is transparent, then this is enterprising; the recent revival of Lulu at the Coliseum gave rise to a recording for Chandos. But if it means that the opera company has to compromise on cast and conductor, then I'm not so sure.

Sometimes you go to a performance and enjoy it so much that you hope that it pressages a recording. A year or so ago we heard the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment doing the Verdi Requiem with Christine Brewer as the soprano solo. A fabulous performance I kept hoping a recording was in the offing; sadly it wasn't.

For New Year's eve 2004 we went to the Wigmore Hall to hear Robert King and the King's Consort doing Rossini's Petite Messe Solonnelle with just 8 singers; a performance far closer to Rossini's intentions than the larger scale choral performances that are common. One of the singers in this lovely performance was Hilary Summers. She was Unolfo in Rodelinda at Wednesday's Barbican performance and her biography in the programme referred to the King's Consort's forthcoming recording of the Rossini; so at least this time I have a recording to look forward to besides memories of that New Year's eve concert. I can't wait!

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