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Coloratura / Anu Komsi, Sakari Oramo, Lahti Symphony Orchestra

Gliere / Komsi / Lahti Sym Orch
Release Date: 10/30/2012 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1962  
Composer:  Reinhold GliereAmbroise ThomasLéo DelibesAlexander Alyabyev,   ... 
Performer:  Anu Komsi
Conductor:  Sakari Oramo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Just browse the header and you realize that this programme requires a soprano with exceptional technique, stamina, height and beauty of tone. Luonnotar and to some extent the Hamlet mad scene also need someone with text interpretative abilities. Where is the rare bird to accomplish all this? Anu Komsi, maybe? I knew her name and have seen some rave reviews but although a frequent visitor to Finland I have never heard her in the flesh - not so strange after all since she has probably been somewhere else in the world, having a busy international career.
 
The Glière concerto was a good starting point since it is wordless and one can concentrate on the voice alone. It is a large voice, not the
Read more nightingale kind like Erna Sack, Rita Streich or, nearer our own time, Sumi Jo. Komsi’s is more in the Cheryl Studer mould. The timbre is beautiful, she has a good trill and, when we reach the second movement of the concerto, her coloratura technique is plainly stunning with pinpoint articulation of the staccato notes.
 
When we come to the two famous French arias she also shows fine sensitivity to the texts. In Lakmé this is of less importance, everybody just waits for the bell imitation, which is almost in the Sutherland class, thought the final high note is somewhat pinched. As Ophelia in Hamlet she sings with obvious affection - she is mad but not insane, her madness is more civilized, if you see what I mean - and the Pale et blonde section is really beautifully conceived. This, by the way, is a Swedish folksong, which Thomas incorporated in the scene as a tribute to the first Ophelia, the Swedish soprano Kristina Nilsson. It wasn’t just a random tribute. The folksong is about Näcken, a water-sprite in old folklore, who entices people down into the water - that’s where Ophelia is going.
 
In Alyabyev’s The Nightingale, she lightens the voice further, while in Der Hölle Rache her power reserve makes her one of the most demonic and threatening Queens of the Night.
 
All this is very impressive, but is there a hang-up? I think so. Unless my ears deceive me she has a tendency to slide up to certain notes, leading to a feeling of unstable intonation. This occurs in several places in the Glière and it happens also occasionally in the Thomas and Delibes. Different listeners react differently to such imperfections and there is so much here that is terribly good.
 
The two final numbers stand out from the rest of the programme for several reasons. John Zorn’s monodrama La Machine de l’être in three movements, premiered as recently as March 2011 at New York City Opera, is wordless. Its title is from a drawing by French playwright Antonin Artaud, the creator of “Theatre of Cruelty”. With no words there is no plot and the story of this drama is in the voice; rather the exploration of the possibilities of the soprano voice in its extremes is the drama. It is a fascinating drama which gets its dénouement in an uproarious and daring final act, concluded with a horrible shriek. This isn’t music for the fainthearted but it is an impressive triumph for Anu Komsi’s fearless vocalism.
 
Even greater things will come. As far removed from superficial vocal display as possible is Sibelius’s Luonnotar. It is a symphonic poem for soprano and orchestra, dedicated to the great Finnish singer Aino Ackté, who also premiered the work at the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester in September 1913. The text is from the first part of the Kalevala and is about the creation of the world. It is by many regarded as one of Sibelius’s best compositions but it is also a terribly challenging work for the soprano. The tessitura is high and takes her up to a C flat, there are difficult leaps and in the midst of all this she also has to negotiate the verbosity of the text. I have long admired Mari-Ann Häggander’s recording of the work (also on BIS), but here is a version that not only challenges it but even surpasses it. It is not just a question of technique but of interpretation: so many nuances, such depth of involvement.
 
Luonnotar is without doubt the musical masterwork here and Anu Komsi’s reading of it is alone worth the price of the disc. The Lahti Symphony Orchestra has for many years been one of the foremost orchestras in Europe. Sakari Oramo, Anu Komsi’s husband, gives idiomatic readings of all the music. In spite of my reservations there is a lot to admire on this disc.
 
-- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Coloratura Soprano and Orchestra, Op. 82 by Reinhold Gliere
Performer:  Anu Komsi (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sakari Oramo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1943; USSR 
2.
Hamlet: A vos jeux "Mad Scene" by Ambroise Thomas
Performer:  Anu Komsi (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sakari Oramo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868; France 
3.
Lakmé: Où va la jeune indoue? "Bell Song" by Léo Delibes
Performer:  Anu Komsi (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sakari Oramo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883; France 
4.
The Nightingale by Alexander Alyabyev
Performer:  Anu Komsi (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sakari Oramo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
5.
Die Zauberflöte, K 620: Der Hölle Rache by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Anu Komsi (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sakari Oramo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria 
6.
La Machine de l’être by John Zorn
Performer:  Anu Komsi (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sakari Oramo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra
7.
Luonnotar, Op. 70 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Anu Komsi (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sakari Oramo
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1910; Finland 

Sound Samples

Coloratura Soprano Concerto, Op. 82: I. Andante
Coloratura Soprano Concerto, Op. 82: II. Allegro
Hamlet: Act V: A vos jeux, mes amis
Lakme: Act II: Ou va la jeune indoue, "Bell Song"
Solovei (The Nightingale) (arr. E. Koskimies for voice and orchestra)
Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute), K. 620: Act II: Aria: Der Holle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen
La Machine de l'etre: I. teteme
La Machine de l'etre: II. le revele
La Machine de l'etre: III. entremeles
Luonnotar, Op. 70

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