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Classical-Music.com RCM Museum celebrates the life of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Classical-Music.com Free Download: The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge sings Josquin

This week's free download is the Kyrie from Josquin's Missa Pange lingua, performed by The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and its conductor Graham Ross on their latest recording for Harmonia Mundi. The mass is the glorious centrepiece of a programme marking the feast of Corpus Christi, and appears alongside music by Victoria, Byrd, Mozart, Finzi and Messiaen and others.

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Classical-Music.com Free Download: Sonia Prina performs ‘Se il fulmine sospendi’ from Gluck’s opera Ezio

Gluck Heroes in Love

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This week's free download is 'Se il fulmine sospendi' (If you stop the thunderbolt) from Gluck's Ezio. The recording of this aria comes from Sonia Prina's latest album Heroes in Love, an all-Gluck programme performed with laBarocca and conductor Ruben Jais for the Glossa label.

DOWNLOAD INSTRUCTIONS:

If you'd like to enjoy our free weekly download simply log in or sign up to our website.

Once you've done that, return to this page and you'll be able to see a 'Download Now' button on the picture above – simply click on it to download your free track.

If you experience any technical problems please email support@classical-music.com. Please reference 'Classical Music Free Download', and include details of the system you are using and your location. If you are unsure of what details to include please take a screenshot of this page.

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Classical-Music.com Free Download: ‘Adagio Molto Espressivo’ from Beethoven’s Violin Sonata in A, performed by James Ehnes

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This week's free download is the Adagio molto expressivo from Beethoven's Violin Sonata No. 6, performed by James Ehnes and Andrew Armstrong. Their recording, on the Onyx label, received a four-star review in our July issue.

'Both performers are at the top of their game,' writes Martin Cotton, 'weaving different speeds and emotions into a coherent, satisfying tapestry.'

Buy the full album here.

DOWNLOAD INSTRUCTIONS:

If you'd like to enjoy our free weekly download simply log in or sign up to our website.

Once you've done that, return to this page and you'll be able to see a 'Download Now' button on the picture above – simply click on it to download your free track.

If you experience any technical problems please email support@classical-music.com. Please reference 'Classical Music Free Download', and include details of the system you are using and your location. If you are unsure of what details to include please take a screenshot of this page.

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Classical-Music.com Free Download: Giovanni Sollima plays the ‘Allegro’ from Costanzi’s Sinfonia in D major

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This week's free download is the Allegro from 18th-century composer Costanzi's Sinfonia in D major for cello, performed by Giovanni Sollima and the Arianna Arts Ensemble. The recording received a five-star review and was our Concerto Choice in July. 

'Giovanni Sollima is the living embodiment of an 18th-century virtuoso-composr; a consummate performer-acrobat, whose fiery physicality no dizzying speed nor vaulting elaboration can challenge,' writes Helen Wallace. 

DOWNLOAD INSTRUCTIONS:

If you'd like to enjoy our free weekly download simply log in or sign up to our website.

Once you've done that, return to this page and you'll be able to see a 'Download Now' button on the picture above – simply click on it to download your free track.

If you experience any technical problems please email support@classical-music.com. Please reference 'Classical Music Free Download', and include details of the system you are using and your location. If you are unsure of what details to include please take a screenshot of this page.

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Classical-Music.com Vote in our Opera World Cup!

What is the greatest opera of all time?

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In our October issue – out now – we reveal the 20 Greatest Operas of all time, as voted for by 172 of the world's leading opera singers.

Renée Fleming, Plácido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa and Bryn Terfel were just some of the international stars who voted in our opera survey: find out how each of them voted in the magazine.

But what do you think is the Greatest Opera ever written? Over the next few weeks, we will be asking you to champion your choice as it goes head to head with other masterpieces in our #OperaWorldCup!

Over the last two weeks, we asked followers to nominate their choice. Now 32 of the most-nominated operas will face off in heats, to be win the title: Twitter's Greatest Opera.

 

 

The Pools

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Classical-Music.com Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro voted greatest opera of all time

Anna Devin and David Stout as Susanna and Figaro (Credit: Getty)

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The Marriage of Figaro has been voted the greatest opera ever written, in a BBC Music Magazine poll of 172 of the world’s greatest opera singers, including tenor/baritone Plácido Domingo, sopranos Kiri Te Kanawa and Renée Fleming and bass-baritone Bryn Terfel.

Mozart’s comic opera received more than double the number of votes than the runner-up, Puccini’s La bohème. Written in 1786 in just six weeks, Figaro famously received five encores at its première, and has gone on to become one of the most performed operas in history.

Singers said they chose the comic opera for its exciting momentum, fine ensemble writing and rich portrait of humanity. ‘The Marriage of Figaro is such a human portrait’ says Renée Fleming. ‘No matter how many times I sing this opera I am always completely stunned how little people have changed since Mozart’s time, in terms of relationships and the manoeuvring they do.’

Soprano Dame Felicity Lott, meanwhile, praises Figaro’s ‘sublime and well-drawn characters’, while bass-baritone Gerald Finley calls the work ‘a singer’s rite of passage’, particularly in the roles of the Count, Susanna and Figaro himself.

Mozart was generally popular in the polls, with Don Giovanni also making the top 20. Puccini also appears twice, with La bohème in second place and Tosca in sixth.

While the works in the Top 20 span over 500 years of opera, 20th-century operas constituted almost half of the top choices – despite being one of the few English operas in the international repertory, Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes reached fifth place, and in fourth place was serialist composer Alban Berg’s Wozzeck. Ten singers also nominated an opera written in the past 30 years.

For the full Top 20, along with a rundown of the 172 singers’ choices, buy our October opera special issue, out now

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Classical-Music.com Recording of the Month: Ann Hallenberg

Ann Hallenberg's wonderful exploration of the Venice Carnival in 1729 is our September Recording of the Month. The Swedish mezzo joins Il Pomo d'Oro and Stefano Montanari for a programme of Albinoni, Giacomelli, Leo, Vinci and others on this Pentatone Recording.

Find out more and hear extracts from the disc in this podcast presented by editor Oliver Condy and reviews editor Rebecca Franks.

Carnevale 1729

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Classical-Music.com Life of an 18th-century diva

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Julie Dorus-Gras was Belgian, although born in a small town in Northern France (Valenciennes) on September 7, 1805. 

She conducted her studies at the Paris Conservatory, before making her debut on the operatic stage with the Théâtre de la Monnaie in 1826.  She sang the role of Elvire in Auber’s La Muette de Portici – in a performance on August 25, 1830 that signalled the start of the Belgian revolution. The revolution was the catalyst to her move back to Paris for the rest of her career and up until her death in 1896.

It is impossible to know with any accuracy what Mme. Dorus-Gras’ voice sounded like, though in her day she acquired a reputation for rare vocal greatness.  What is clear from the historical facts available is that she had a prodigious work ethic and was constantly refining and shaping her vocal technique to meet the requirements of the roles she sang.  This iron discipline allowed her to perform a wider variety of roles than normal and placed her among the front rank of artists of the time.  When composers of considerable prominence were looking for appropriate talent to debut their works, she was often the first choice.  

When I think about soprano Julie Dorus-Gras’ life and career as a leading diva in 1830-40s Paris, I imagine the possible conversations she had with the Parisian grand opera nobility, composers like Donizetti, Meyerbeer, Halévy, Berlioz, and Auber.  Could her artistic suggestions have helped shape major works in the repertoire?   

She was a prolific creator of new grand opera roles throughout her career, though many would be considered obscure in today’s repertory. Grand operas usually require huge orchestras and a wide and ample range of talent on the stage. However, they are still historic gems

It must have been incredible for her to have worked so closely with these composers – to know exactly their artistic wishes. Of course, during this time, working with close contact to living composers was commonplace. On the flip side: without the luxury of learning from past performance history or, of course, recordings for reference, she had to be fearless in approaching new repertoire. From the literature and from the success she clearly had, she was determined to conquer any vocal challenge that she was presented with. 

Joyce El-Khoury’s debut disc – an homage to the great soprano Julie Dorus-Gras – will be released on September 8. Click here to find out more. 

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