Kathleen Battle Edition

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Kathleen Battle Edition
Kathleen Battle, with Jessye Norman, Christopher Parkening, Itzhak Perlman, etc

[ Deutche Grammophon Australian Eloquence / 15 CD Box Set ]

Release Date: Friday 28 July 2023

A Limited Edition, Original Jackets collection showcasing the artistry of the magnificent American soprano, Kathleen Battle.

Kathleen Battle enraptured opera audiences of the 1980s and 1990s. Here was a lyric soprano combining unsurpassable beauty of tone with a keen musical intelligence, a way with words and a communicative warmth that drew listeners to Strauss and spirituals alike. She has the easy phrasing of a great jazz singer combined with the breath, breadth and precise projection of a trained voice.

James Levine coached her at the Metropolitan Opera, and when he accompanied her at the 1984 Salzburg Festival and DG recorded the recital as Battle's debut solo album, nothing less than a phenomenon was launched. She had been admired as a gifted singer since the age of eight, and a 1985 article in Time magazine declared that she was 'the greatest lyric coloratura soprano in the world'.

Her performances at the Met of Susanna, Despina, Pamina and other lyric roles in the great Mozart operas, conducted by Levine, established her as one of the world's leading interpreters of this repertoire. Recorded near the end of her DG association, Battle and Levine recorded arias from those roles for an album which became a radiantly beautiful souvenir of an era when they formed an artistic team as celebrated and accomplished in their way as Schwarzkopf and Karajan or Nilsson and Solti.

However, Battle had already recorded for several labels, and this Eloquence box uniquely brings together selected albums she made for Angel (the US branch of EMI - those which have repatriated to Universal Music Group) with the DG recitals. They include an imaginatively programmed guitar recital with Christopher Parkening and excerpts from a Messiah led by Sir Andrew Davis in Toronto.

These Handel arias feature on a new compilation within the album, 'Kathleen Battle sings Sacred Music', which also features excerpts from her appearances in Levine's DG recordings of The Creation by Haydn and the C minor Mass by Mozart, as well as Poulenc's Gloria and the 'Pie Jesu' from Fauré's Requiem.

Two further albums showcase excerpts from more complete albums: one of Handel and Mozart arias, including the celebrated Semele recording with John Nelson, and another of operatic and concert arias, including a staggering 'Grossmächtige Prinzessin' (Ariadne, with Levine) and the touching songs from the Ozawa recording of Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Featuring a new essay on the soprano and the background to her meteoric career by David Patrick Stearns, the set will be an essential acquisition for all lovers of lyric soprano artistry.

"A radiant and joyous experience for performers and listeners alike. The Fauré songs are so seductively coloured, and the spirituals convey at once such animation and so much unassuming dignity." Stereo Review, April 1987 (Carnegie Hall Recital)

"There's something about Battle's singing which disarms me completely. In the long-lined numbers especially, she is so poised, pure, and breathtakingly lovely that I hang, ensorcelled, on every phrase." Fanfare, March 1989 (Schubert: Lieder)

"The singing is con amore throughout the programme, with just the right touch of humour or tenderness or whatever each selection calls for." Stereo Review, October 1989 ('Live in Tokyo')

"The scene from L'elisir d'amore … is graceful in character, wholly delightful, and the Romeo and Juliet nuptial duet combines passion and musical sensitivity… Warmly recommended." Opera, December 1989 ('Live in Tokyo')

"This disc should please virtually everyone … Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman, in splendid vocal form, give unstintingly of themselves." Stereo Review, August 1991 ('Spirituals in Concert')

"It's inspiriting to hear beauty and, yes, voluptuousness restored to Bach's music ... she brings to 'Ich traue seiner Gnaden' a silken smoothness far beyond the capacity of most of today's Bach specialists." Fanfare, July 1992 ('The Bach Album')

"Her encores include 'Depuis le jour', a lovely, intimate dream of a performance." Gramophone, July 1992 (Carnegie Hall Recital)

"I am not a religious person, but I recall sitting in the opera house one afternoon and silently thanking whatever gods might be for letting me live long enough to hear Kathleen Battle … For sheer singing, this is one of the most exciting records to come my way in a long time." Fanfare, September 1991 (Spirituals)

"A joyous collaboration, the sort of thing that happens when two superior talents that have much in common join in common cause… [Battle and Previn] touch this record with the special magic that could bring it a cult of admirers. My only regret is that it is all over much too soon." Fanfare, March 1996 ('Honey and Rue')

"Kathleen Battle is a voice, but she is also an artist. When she opens her mouth, most of the rest doesn't matter… Knoxville: Summer of 1915 is a knockout." Stereo Review, March 1996 ('Honey and Rue')

"'Ruhe sanft' is ideally suited to Battle's golden voice, which soars with the ease of a bird in flight across a cloudless sky." Stereo Review, December 1997 (Mozart: Opera Arias)

"Even better are her adorable Zerlina and Susanna, roles she really brings to life. Her 'Batti, batti' in particular has an affecting personal warmth… Levine is a knowing and authoritative accompanist, and his orchestra plays expertly." Fanfare, January 1998 (Mozart: Opera Arias)

"An intrinsically lovely light lyric soprano of seductively plangent timbre … Among the added attractions are the luscious sound of the Met orchestra and a plush DG recording." Opera, March 1998 (Mozart: Opera Arias)

"One could offer superlatives about every aspect of her art … Singing in English, Italian, French, and German, Battle had seemingly mastered every composer on the programme." Fanfare, May 2022 (Salzburg Recital)


CD 1
J.S. BACH Arias
Itzhak Perlman
John Nelson

CD 2
MOZART Opera Arias
James Levine

CD 3
Bel Canto - Italian Opera Arias
Bruno Campanella

CD 4
French Opera Arias
Myung-Whun Chung

CD 5
Honey and Rue
André Previn

CD 6
Live in Tokyo 1988
Plácido Domingo
James Levine

CD 7
Kathleen Battle at Carnegie Hall
Margo Garrett

CD 8
Salzburg Recital
James Levine

CD 9
James Levine

CD 10
Spirituals in Concert
Jessye Norman
James Levine

CD 11
Pleasures of their Company
Christopher Parkening

CD 12
A Christmas Celebration
Leonard Slatkin

CD 13
Kathleen Battle sings Sacred Music
Mozart · Haydn · Handel · Poulenc · Fauré
James Levine ∙ Andrew Davis
Seiji Ozawa ∙ Carlo Maria Giulini

CD 14
Kathleen Battle sings Handel and Mozart
John Nelson · Sir Georg Solti · Herbert von Karajan · Alain Lombard

CD 15
Kathleen Battle sings Opera and Concert Arias
Rossini ∙ Donizetti ∙ Verdi ∙ J. Strauss II · R. Strauss ∙ Wagner ∙ Mendelssohn
Claudio Abbado ∙ Ion Marin ∙ James Levine · Sir Georg Solti ∙ Herbert Von Karajan ∙ Seiji Ozawa