Recording News 2015
STRAUSS: Tod und Verklarung
These two Strauss pieces have always been of profound interest in my compositional development. "Tod und
Verklarung" was a piece that Strauss himself returned to throughout his life and took on new meanings for him. "Metamorphosen," a deeply personal statement by Strauss, describes the destruction of art and culture due to WWII features a juxtaposition of melancholy and revisiting of his compositional youth with a surprisingly modernist and painful dissonance.
It was a great pleasure to record these landmark works with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. Available through iTunes and Amazon.com.
Sarah Joy Miller
A Glorious Dream
The debut album from lyric soprano Sarah Joy Miller. The album is a virtuosic display of the lyric,
coloratura repertoire. Beautifully and passionately sung, she is a rising star. The Pannon Philharmonic
Orchestra lend their talents to this arresting and brilliant vocal debut.
A GRATEFUL TAIL
Dedicated to dogs and people who love them, "A Grateful Tail" is a four movement symphony celebrating
the life and a love of dogs. The third movement features a moving text written by American playwright Eugene
O' Neill (The Last Will and Testament of Silverdene Emblem O'Neill) wonderfully portrayed on this CD by my
good friend Ryland Angel. This is the perfect gift for anyone who has ever loved or been loved by a dog.
Available through CD Baby, Amazon.com and iTunes.
Joseph Calleja "Amore"
Joseph Calleja "Be My Love"Working with Joseph is a complete pleasure and when he wanted to pay homage to tenor Mario Lanza, I was delighted to get involved. In addition to conducting, it was a joy to re-create some of the original Lanza arrangements making this project a truly authentic tribute and a labor of love. Of course, it's always an added thrill to see the album race up the charts all over the world!
Anne Akiko Meyers, Bach "Air" currently No.1
Delighted to see that this new recording with wonderful violinist Anne Akiko Meyers has been greeted with such a warm response. The London Chamber Symphony played beautifully and I believe that the results show
what a wonderful time we had making this CD.
Chick Corea: The Continents
This is our second collaborative effort. The first, " Concerto" for large orchestra, won a Grammy. It's always a thrill to work with my good friend, Chick and the assembly of outstanding Jazz musicians involved with the project was inspired.
Marcello Giordani with Steven Mercurio and the Pannon Philharmonic Orchestra
"Ti Voglio Tanto Bene" ("I Love You," my third collaboration with tenor Marcello Giordani was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Just as we did on our second album together (Sicilia Bedda, which I also arranged orchestrated and conducted), Marcello and I sought out to combine some favorites along with quite a few newly discovered Neapolitan songs. The album is an homage to the great tenors of the 20th century and I'm sure that both the connoisseurs and general music lovers will all find something special on this recording of Neapolitan and art songs.
Steven Featured on Robin Follman's new Dramatic Heroines
Good friend and wonderful soprano Robin Follman and I reveled in the opportunity to discover verismo rarities and other lyric-spinto, dramatic soprano arias. Recorded in Seattle with the Northwest Sinfonia Orchestra (members of the Seattle Symphony), we were thrilled to bring works from Mascagni's "Isabeau" and "Zanetto" and Franchetti's "Germania" as well as world-premiere recording of an aria from Franco Vittadini's "Anima Allegra," to life.
Sting Live In Berlin featuring Steven Mercurio Available in DVD and Blu-Ray
The DVD is a wonderful document of a musical collaboration between the multi-talented Sting, London's extraordinary Royal Philharmonic some musicians and myself. Filmed in Berlin, in the midst of the European tour, the challenge of combining the two worlds: "symphonic and the well-known pop world of Sting," into a seamless and original sound was uniquely achieved. The essence of the original songs was maintained while the multi-colored splendor of an orchestra's palette was added thereby creating a template for future crossover possibilities. All in all, it is a wonderful three-dimensional concert experience.
Sting performance draws rave review from The Herald Sun
US conductor Steven Mercurio was a dancing dynamo, determined to extract every iota of energy from his players.
Michael Bolton sings for the saints in Assisi
"I feel humbled here," Bolton said after recording the traditional Christmas concert in the frescoed basilica of St Francis of Assisi with Israeli singer Noa and New York conductor Steven Mercurio."I feel humbled to be reminded of the teachings of St Francis, which I was introduced to at a very young age. I don't know anyone who is not moved by his story," he said.
Maestro Mercurio's essay on "La Fanciulla del West"
La Fanciulla del West, the life-affirming rescue opera written for the "new world," had its world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera one hundred years ago, on December 10, 1910. It is not only a fascinating study of Puccini's compositional technique, special effects, creative detail and exceptional dynamic contrast but a demonstration of his desire to control the theatrical environment both on and off the stage.
With its famously large choruses and Asian percussion effects,Turandot,Puccini's posthumous twelfth opera (written between 1921 and 1924), is generally considered to be the orchestral masterpiece in the composer's canon. What may come as a surprise to many, however, is thatLa Fanciulla del West, Puccini's seventh opera, written after the Illica–Giacosa trilogy (Bohème, Tosca, Butterfly), calls for the largest orchestral forces. The traditional Puccini orchestration (including the one forTurandot)calls for winds in threes, often with only two bassoons. However,Fanciulla – an opera with no dead bodies onstage – calls for winds in fours, in addition to three trumpets, four horns, two harps, celeste, percussion and a few offstage surprises. Turandot is the only other Puccini opera that calls for even two harps.
These forces rival those of the large Wagner and Strauss operas and tone poems. One can only speculate as to why Puccini chose to write for an orchestra beyond his normal scope. Perhaps it was the Met commission, featuring Toscanini on the podium, and the celebrated voices of Enrico Caruso and Emmy Destinn, that allowed Puccini's orchestral imagination to run wild. Or perhaps Puccini viewed this international commission (new world — New York) as an opportunity to demonstrate the full measure of his orchestral powers; possibly this was even more important in light of the fiasco of Butterfly's premiere at La Scala.
Surely the size of this orchestra startled his publisher, Ricordi. Soon after the New York premiere, Ricordi published an authorized orchestral reduction of the entire opera, featuring winds in twos and one harp, making the orchestra the same size as that for any performance of Carmen. Ricordi realized that there were a limited number of theaters in the world that had the capacity to accommodate such a large pit orchestra.
From the beginning of the prelude, Puccini gives the full measure of his intentions for this large orchestration. Opening with a thirty-five-bar introduction (thirty-four bars of music and one bar empty, wherein Puccini shows exactly where the curtain should come up), the prelude jolts the audience with a power and vibrancy that establishes the tone of the piece. Comprised of essentially two themes — a "redemption" theme that will define the Minnie–Dick Johnson relationship, and a second theme belonging to Dick Johnson (a macho, cakewalk-like, brass-driven motif) — the prelude makes a short, loud curtain-raiser, with a cinematic sound that would ultimately serve as a model and inspiration for film composers.
(Top photo courtesy of Clive Barda)
Looking forward to the Spring season beginning with a Memorial Concert in the city of Jerusalem. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to honor perhaps the greatest American musical role model that we've had, Leonard Bernstein. I will be conducting his "Symphony No. 3" - The "Kaddish" with the wonderful Academy Award winning actor, Richard Dreyfuss as the narrator.
Then it's off to my musical home away from home - Detroit, Michigan for performances of Gounod's "Faust."
I've been busy in the recording studio with many musical friends and am looking forward to the release of tenor Richard Troxell's Broadway Album and David Del Tredici's "A Field Manual."
See you in Concertland,
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