Sunday, April 6, 2014

Max Emanuel Cencic

The CD market pretty much dried up but happily iTunes and Amazon still propose a way to get new albums and enjoy music we all love.

At some point there were just too many CD releases and without proper guidance one would easily get drowned by too many slightly different sounding arias recorded (and sound engineered) time and time again.  Jonas Kaufmann had that  first CD that clearly stood out from the rest. It invited us for something different -- something truly artistic. After that album, Jonas surprised us even more by delivering one of the best lieder-album ever, the one that made us appreciate his unique artistic style and made us rush to each of his Liederabende in Paris (or elsewhere) that soon became the most appreciated concerts in Paris every year. The first was audaciously organized at Opéra Garnier by Gérard Mortier...
Then came the pressure on Kaufmann to sing Wagner and to record more and more and more... and so the Jonas' recordings started to lose that special subtle thread of genuine beauty  -- some of the albums that followed were OK-ish, some yawnish and some downright bad.  His new album --his take on Winterreise-- is definitely his return to the greatness. While it does not reach the heights of  Winterreise sung by Christine Schäfer  or by  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, it is every bit as good as that sung by Gerhaher, Quasthoff , Bostridge... and arguably even better.

To me the best recording in years was Ombra Cara by Bejun Mehta after which I definitely became a BM fan.  In the same league is the newly released recording of Max Emanuel Cencic which to me is among the most exciting releases of the past 10 years or so. It is called Rokoko and it includes 14 opera arias by Johann Adolf Hasse that not many of us are familiar with. Cencic, the man with admittedly a poor fashion sense (jk) but with an absolutely divine voice did his magic again and made us fall in love with this repertoire.

Another thing: If you ever get a chance to listen to Max singing live, do not miss it for anything (his solo concerts in particular)! That man simply has a divine talent -- magic voice and the uncommon interpretative skills. 

Some of his previous divine performances:

With our beloved Sonya Yoncheva (whose concert at Pleyel this season was not great but who rocked Opéra Bastille in one of the best Lucia di Lammermoor that I was given to listen to so far) "Pur ti miro"

For some reason his album with Rossini arias was little noticed. There were just too many recordings of these arias, but if you give it a try you'll soon realize that Max makes these arias sound very special and marvelous -- nothing short of Marilyn Horne:

His rendition of Ombra Cara [take this Bejun! :) ]

That album of Handel Arias for Mezzo is a pure gem (+ unforgettable concert at the Gaveau hall in Paris).

Max sang one of the most beautiful arias in Artaserse that I saw in Nancy (in an almost electrifying atmosphere in which every person in the crowd seemed aware that we all were sharing a special moment of something very unique...) -- DVD available

stared in Farnace by Vivaldi in Strasbourg (then released on CD)

and several recordings of operas by Handel are today the best references (duets with another divine voice -- Karina Gauvin -- are particularly superb).

1 comment:

  1. Dear Opera Cake,

    I saw Artaserse in Versailles and the feelings you describe where almost the same.