WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Albéniz: Merlin / Eusebio, Domingo, Alvarez


Release Date: 10/10/2000 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 467096   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Isaac Albeniz
Performer:  Jane HenschelJavier FrancoAngel RodriguezCarlos Chausson,   ... 
Conductor:  José De Eusebio
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Spanish National ChorusMadrid Comunidad ChorusMadrid Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 16 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  
On sale! $33.98
ArkivCD  $29.99
In Stock
MP3: $19.99
What's this?




This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews


"Albeniz? Oh yes, he's the Spanish pianist-composer who wrote Iberia," is the answer most music aficionados would give. Even those who consider themselves learned would be surprised at the true depth and range of Albeniz's accomplishments. How many would guess, for instance, that he was a devoted Wagnerian (even being one of the founders of Spain's Associacio Wagneriana), and composed not one, but several operas, some of them in English. Merlin, composed in 1898, was the first of a projected King Arthur trilogy (which was to continue with Launcelot and conclude with Guenevere), and as such would be Albeniz's answer to Wagner's Ring cycle. The music is unabashedly Wagnerian, opening with a
Read more sustained Rheingold-like drone, and making conspicuous use of the leitmotiv technique. But Albeniz is no carbon copy of the Bayreuth master, and his score reveals influences of his cosmopolitan musical education. For instance, we can hear in the score's whole-tone harmonies and swaggering brass flourishes reflections of his studies with Paul Dukas (though the marching interlude of Act 1 unerringly brings to mind Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony). Of course, the Spanish Albinez does make his presence felt, primarily in Nivian's dance sequence from Act 3.


The libretto, by the English banker Francis Burdett Money Coutts, tells of Merlin's desire to have the young Arthur crowned King of England. Morgan Le Fay suspects Merlin's magic trickery at work when Arthur succeeds in pulling Excalibur from the stone, denying her son Mordred the Kingdom, which she claims is rightfully his since he is of royal blood. In Act 2 Morgan and Mordred have been captured after waging war against Arthur, who pardons them, leaving Morgan to plot her revenge against Arthur and Merlin. I'm not giving anything away by telling you that the opera ends with Merlin trapped in a cave by his own greed, since this cliffhanger is only the end of Part One.


Part Two, Launcelot, was composed by Albeniz in piano score, and there is currently work in progress on its orchestration. Unfortunately the third part, Guenevere, never made it beyond the planning stage. Merlin is a very beautiful opera containing music that is always engaging and, at times, captivating. The libretto, in the style of Victorian poetry, is more than a bit insufferable, with some tracts reading like a Dr. Seuss book. Nevertheless, the singers do their utmost to communicate the passions of their characters, even if, as usual in English opera, the words are barely intelligible.


A marvelous group of voices was chosen for this recording: Carlos Álvarez is darkly powerful as Merlin, while Placido Domingo sings in firm tones for Arthur. Jane Henschel's rich timbre and dynamic range realize a deliciously imperious Morgan Le Fay, and Ana María Martínez's Nivian seduces with her mesmerizing singing. There also are some sterling performances from the very well-trained choral groups, who demonstrate not only fine singing but refined English diction as well. José De Eusebio, who painstakingly reconstructed the full score, leads a passionately convincing performance with the Orquesta Sinfónicia de Madrid. Opera lovers owe a debt of gratitude to the government of Madrid for its generous support of this project, to Placido Domingo, who lent considerable influence, and to Decca for having the courage and foresight to produce and release this important (and excellent sounding) recording. [1/26/2001]
--Victor Carr Jr., ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Merlin by Isaac Albeniz
Performer:  Jane Henschel (Soprano), Javier Franco (Baritone), Angel Rodriguez (Tenor),
Carlos Chausson (Bass), Ana Maria Martinez (Soprano), José López Ferrero (Tenor),
Javier Roldan (Bass), Placido Domingo (Tenor), Christopher Maltman (Baritone),
Felipe Bou (Baritone), Carlos Alvarez (Baritone)
Conductor:  José De Eusebio
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Spanish National Chorus,  Madrid Comunidad Chorus,  Madrid Symphony Orchestra
Written: c.1898, rev 1990s Jo 
Date of Recording: 1999 
Venue:  Auditorio Nacional de Madrid 

Sound Samples

Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio: Orchestral Prelude
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: Veni, Redemptor gentium
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: Hail, mystic morn
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: Merlin, master!
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: Interlude - Andante religioso
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: Egressus ejus a Patre
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: My lords and gentlemen at arms!
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: We have heard a rumoured word
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: Long I prayed
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: We have heard a rumoured word
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: Lo! "Excalibur" inlaid
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: Who the sceptre hopes to sway
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: Fools and simple priest
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: Gawain, my son!
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: Now shall I lightly take it
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: None is here whose hand alone destin'd is
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: Pray, Sir Pellinore, take guard!
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: Gentle knights, the lists await ye!
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: Orchestral Interlude
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: Why loiter on the Journey
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: Oh fate uncouth!
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: Aequalis aeterno Patri
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: By the Gospels we swear
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 1: Fools! By Merlin mastered!
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 2: Wounded with Ravage
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 2: Orchestral Interlude
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 2: God love King Arthur and save the State
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 2: Lead them hither, to learn their fate
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 2: Death to the Sorceress!
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 2: Peace, Peace
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 2: This I vow for Jesu's sake!
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 2: Bastard and lowly born Boy!
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 2: Hear me oh Lady and save!
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 2: Hark, hark! Did he call?
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 2: Hark! He's calling
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 3: Orchestral Prelude
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 3: In Maytime, merry Maytime
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 3: In Maytime, in Maytime...Oh! not with summer madness
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 3: I would my love or learning your love, my liege
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 3: Herein to serve him duly were but a foolish thing
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 3: Orchestral Interlude
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 3: Hither, ye covetous elves!
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 3: Tric a ta trac
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 3: Ah!
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 3: Where flowers of the marigold and daisy
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 3: Herodias' daughter dancing
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 3: See! it becomes in your hand nothing
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 3: Sun-hearted child of the East
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 3: First I must pillage the hive
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 3: Borne on the wings of the summering swallows!
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 3: Free, free, free!
Merlin - Opera in Three Acts - Revised: José de Eusebio - Act 3: Sucklings and Babes are chosen

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN TO ARKIVMUSIC STREAMING.
TRY IT NOW FOR FREE!
Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $19.95/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In