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Abert J.J.: Ekkehard [Opera]


Price: CDN$ 34.28 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Amazon.com: 5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Beatifully performed but not very exciting Oct. 10 2012
By Hiroko Sato - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The reason why I ordered Abert's Ekkehard was that I was interested in Jonas Kaufmann' singing. The production was done about ten years ago, when he was in his early thirties. I enjoyed the beautiful lyric quality of his voice, which he is losing now in his transformation into a stronger and heavier tenor. I found Abert's music quite beautiful but flat without dramatic climax. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the CDs.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
World Premiere of a rare piece with a cast that consists of two of today's biggest names. Oct. 27 2013
By Abert - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Cast -
* Mihoko Fujimura (Alto)
* Christian Gerhaher (Baritone)
* Jonas Kaufmann (Tenor)
* Susanne Kelling (Mezzo Soprano)
* Alfred Reiter (Bass)
* Nyla Van Ingen (Soprano)
* Henryk Böhm (Baritone)
* Jörg Hempel (Baritone)
Ensembles:
* Stuttgarter Choir
* SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserslautern

Live recording in 1998, with a good hall ambience and very well balanced sound both of orchestra and singers, rarely so well done for live opera recordings. Musically this is a winner through and through, with a wonderful orchestra and a vocal dream cast, all of whom sung tremendously well.
The work is early romantic opera in the grand French opera style that premiered at Berlin in 1878.
Peter Falk conducts a great cast here, comprising, in the title role, Jonas Kaufmann in this world premiere recording of this rarely performed opera, then only 29 years old. Kaufmann's voice was fresh, vibrant and very flexible in this performance, some thing that alas could not be said today. He has absolutely no problem with mezza voce here. The timbre is lyrical and heroic in one, with mesmerizing soft singing and ringing top notes when called for, and his singing is very dramatic, as the role of Ekkehard is both a lover and a hero. Added on to all these is the fact that in this genre of work, Kaufmann is unbeatable stylistically.
The supporting cast also contains, very rarely singing together with Kaufmann these days, the great lieder baritone Christian Gerhaher, who sings the small role of Chapel Master at the opening Act's harvest celebrations. Gerhaher sang exactly as he does today - with a honey-hued light weight baritone, highly focused, totally flexible and with fully mellifluous timbre and utterly elegant phrasing that befits the role. Only if the role is not such a small one!
The other reknowned performer include Japanese contralto Mihoko Fujimura in the role of the Forest Woman.
It is a shame that this virtually unknown German opera recording has been left to almost oblivion, and if I did not visit Kaufmann's personal website, would not even know that there is such a piece of work.
The music is very beautiful, though the singing largely comprise of ensemble (Ekkehard does have a solo piece `Der Gedanken Sturm zu Bannen' that you can also find on Youtube sung immaculately by Kaufmann).
The story is about the life of a monk at the Abbey of St. Gall called Ekkehard, based on a novel by von Scheffel. Roughly speaking, this monk fell in love with two women in a castle (one duchess and one lady in waiting) and had to die at the end for saving his loved ones from invading Huns. The biggest drawback of this otherwise immaculate recording is the lack of translated libretto (available only in German).
Otherwise, artistically this deserves to be a 5-star product. Especially for fans of Kaufmann (and Gerhaher), to hear these two great Bavarian singers in an early live recording, this is a `must' choice.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A Real Gem Dec 12 2014
By christopher007 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I stumbled upon this recording for a very very cheap price, under $10 in fact, and really just bought it out of curiosity. I was not expecting it to be so beautiful, simply because I had never heard of the opera and expected it would be a quaint but not terribly exciting operatic relic. How wrong I was. This is amazing, and as I listen, expecting it to peter out into ordinariness, it never does. Jonas Kauffman is just superb, but there are no weak performers here. The orchestra is beautiful, the choir parts are beautiful and the principals are just mellifluous. I would have loved an English translation of the libretto, because I have no German, so I will have to search the web for one. But if you read German, at least you have the benefit of the text in the accompanying booklet. The other reviewers here are commenting that this recording shows Kauffman's voice at its best, before (they say) he lost his flexibility. I don't know enough about Kauffman, I have not heard enough of him and have never been present to see/hear him in a live performance. So all I can do is say that, yes, his voice on this recording is absolutely wonderful, it is beautifully toned and sounds flawless. The soprano, Nyla Van Ingen, I had never heard of before, and she sounds equally beautiful. The conductor is Peter Falk. (Not Columbo, I should add.) If you have not heard this opera before, and you probably haven't, my advice is to buy it now. You will not be sorry, especially at $24. A real bargain.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
World Premiere of a rare opera with a cast consisting of two of today's biggest names. Oct. 27 2013
By Abert - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Cast -
* Mihoko Fujimura (Alto)
* Christian Gerhaher (Baritone)
* Jonas Kaufmann (Tenor)
* Susanne Kelling (Mezzo Soprano)
* Alfred Reiter (Bass)
* Nyla Van Ingen (Soprano)
* Henryk Böhm (Baritone)
* Jörg Hempel (Baritone)
Ensembles:
* Stuttgarter Choir
* SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserslautern

Live recording in 1998, with a good hall ambience and very well balanced sound both of orchestra and singers, rarely so well done for live opera recordings. Musically this is a winner through and through, with a wonderful orchestra and a vocal dream cast, all of whom sung tremendously well.
The work is early romantic opera in the grand French opera style that premiered at Berlin in 1878.
Peter Falk conducts a great cast here, comprising, in the title role, Jonas Kaufmann in this world premiere recording of this rarely performed opera, then only 29 years old. Kaufmann's voice was fresh, vibrant and very flexible in this performance, some thing that alas could not be said today. He has absolutely no problem with mezza voce here. The timbre is lyrical and heroic in one, with mesmerizing soft singing and ringing top notes when called for, and his singing is very dramatic, as the role of Ekkehard is both a lover and a hero. Added on to all these is the fact that in this genre of work, Kaufmann is unbeatable stylistically.
The supporting cast also contains, very rarely singing together with Kaufmann these days, the great lieder baritone Christian Gerhaher, who sings the small role of Chapel Master at the opening Act's harvest celebrations. Gerhaher sang exactly as he does today - with a honey-hued light weight baritone, highly focused, totally flexible and with fully mellifluous timbre and utterly elegant phrasing that befits the role. Only if the role is not such a small one!
The other reknowned performer include Japanese contralto Mihoko Fujimura in the role of the Forest Woman.
It is a shame that this virtually unknown German opera recording has been left to almost oblivion, and if I did not visit Kaufmann's personal website, would not even know that there is such a piece of work.
The music is very beautiful, though the singing largely comprise of ensemble (Ekkehard does have a solo piece `Der Gedanken Sturm zu Bannen' that you can also find on Youtube sung immaculately by Kaufmann).
The story is about the life of a monk at the Abbey of St. Gall called Ekkehard, based on a novel by von Scheffel. Roughly speaking, this monk fell in love with two women in a castle (one duchess and one lady in waiting) and had to die at the end for saving his loved ones from invading Huns. The biggest drawback of this otherwise immaculate recording is the lack of translated libretto (available only in German).
Otherwise, artistically this deserves to be a 5-star product. Especially for fans of Kaufmann (and Gerhaher), to hear these two great Bavarian singers in an early live recording, this is a `must' choice.
Young Jonas Kaufmann and some charming music almost rescue this little-known opera. June 17 2015
By Nola J Colman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Previously I had not heard this or any opera by this Czech-German composer, Johann Joseph Abert. I bought this primarily for the work of (a young) Jonas Kaufmann. For that alone, it was worthwhile. The opera itself was better than I had expected. The story (medieval Germany) of the monk Ekkehard (Kaufmann already sounding heroic) who denounces pagans, fights Huns but reads Virgil. He is tutor to the widowed Duchess Hadwig,who falls in love with hime as does her confidant, Praxedis. Meanqhile Count Montfort desires Hadwig and plots to kill Ekkehard. Montfort is helped by Forest Woman (witch) confesses his love for Hadwig in her imprisoned for There is some pagan business with a witch (Forest Woman) who helps Montfort. Ekkehard confesses love, feels guilty, is denounced, imprisoned and eventually released by Praxedis only to die in battle. The music is actually much lighter than the plot would suggest, the ensembles are especially good, I hear folk music influence (Czech perhaps). Kaufmann, as expected, colors Ekkehard's music appropriately; heroic for denouncing pagans and accepting fate, noble defending Virgil and passionate confessing love to Hadwig. A young Christian Gerhaher is Rudiman. Mihoko Fujimora makes the Forest Woman the most memorable of the three women singers. I will listen to bits and pieces again (Kaufmann, Fujimora, ensembles) again. Recommended for Kaufmann fans or German opera devotees.

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