Two bits of news this week: the first is that I am going to have my own show on Kennet Radio to talk about Classical Music with a particular emphasis on local choirs, orchestras and musicians. Kennet Radio is a small local online radio station who are hoping to get a licence in July. So that is exciting and my first broadcast is in a week or so.
The other exciting piece of news is that Simon Rattle has finally confirmed his position as Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra. The politicians won't know what's hit them because he will ensure that classical music is constantly top of the agenda
Simon Rattle on YouTube
Many great tenors have produced albums of the great roles by Guiseppe Verdi. This album is one of the most recent and is sung by the 45 year old Jonas Kaufmann, who is probably the greatest tenor in the world at the moment. A very handsome German with an extraordinary voice whose career reaches new peaks every year. What makes Kaufmann so great and unique is that he has an extremely versatile voice. He has a very rich lower register, unusually so for a tenor and yet he can still sing the high notes. He is often compared to Placido Domingo not only for his voice but also for his great acting skills.
Watch the making of the Verdi Album on YouTube
In February 2014, Kaufmann received one of the greatest standing ovations in recent memory for his role at the New York Metropolitan Opera for his role as the tortured poet Werther in Massenet's opera by the same name.
Kaufmann is from East Germany by origin, his family fled the German Democratic Republic in the 1960s. Whilst he had a normal upbringing there was always a piano around which all the family played. Never thinking he had a particularly special voice, he followed his father's advice to make plans to have a profession with a secure income and enrolled to study Mathematics at the University of Munich. But realising this wasn't where his passion lay he left after two terms and switched to study singing at Munich's Academy of Music and Theatre. Initially he spent several years performing in small Germany opera houses and then got his major break singing opposite the most in-demand soprano of the day Angela Gheorghiu in Verdi's La traviata in 2006 at the New York Metropolitan Opera.
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) was an Italian Romantic composer known primarily for his operas of which he wrote 28. For a period of time he dominated the Italian opera scene and alongside Richard Wagner he is known as the greatest Romantic composer of opera. He was and still is considered to be a national hero throughout Italy with the young and old.
This recording contains some of the great Verdi arias for the tenor voice from operas including Rigoletto, Aida, Il trovatore, Don Carlo and Otello. This is a fabulous album and if you prefer a compilation to a recording of a whole opera then this is the one to have. My favourite tracks? Dio, che nell'alma infondere from Don Carlo and Oh! fede negar potessi…..Quand le sere al placido from Luisa Miller - on the latter track it all starts at 1:56.
Here is Kaufmann singing alongside the Baritone Mariusz Kwiecien at Covent Garden in Dio, che nell'alma infondere from Don Carlo on YouTube