Kirsten Blaise

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Kirsten Blaise
Soprano

Soprano Kirsten Blaise has gained a particular reputation in operatic and concert works of the Baroque and Classical eras, but her repertoire also embraces such composers as Schubert, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Wagner, Mahler and, among leading contemporary figures, John Adams and Michael Finnissy. Born in America, and trained at Indiana University's renowned School of Music, Kirsten Blaise made her professional debut in Indiana in 1996 before moving to Europe to develop her international career. She currently resides in Germany. From 2007 to 2009, as a member of the company at the Badisches Staatstheater in Karlsruhe. At Paris' Theâtre du Châtelet she has appeared as Woglinde in Wagner's Ring, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, and has also performed at the Staatsoper Stuttgart, De Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam, the Salzburg Landestheater, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis und Opera Lafayette in Washington D.C. In Summer 2012 she sings Angelica in Haydn's Orlando Paladino at Sweden's Drottningholm Festival. 2011 brought her debut alongside actor John Malkovich in the music-theatre piece The Infernal Comedy, which toured Germany, France, the UK and North and South America. Numbering among her festival appearances are the Holland Festival, Ludwigsburger Schlossfestpiele, the Halle Handel Festival, the Beethoven Easter Festival in Warsaw (with the Bremen Kammerphilharmonie under Trevor Pinnock), Oregon Bach Festival, Carmel Bach Festival. Kirsten Blaise has also collaborated with the Stuttgart Bachakademie and Helmuth Rilling and orchestras such as the BBC Symphony, London Sinfonietta, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Noord Nederlands Orkest, Brooklyn Philharmonic, American Classical Orchestra, Dallas Bach Society, Edmonton Symphony and Le Parlement de Musique.
George Fr. Handel · JephthaGeorge Fr. Handel · Jephtha
George Frideric Handel:
J E P H T H A
Complete recording of the English Oratorio HWV 70,
performed according to the traditions of the time
by Kirsten Blaise (Soprano), Annelie Sophie Müller (Mezzo-Soprano),
David Allsopp (Altus, Countertenor), Benjamin Hulett (Tenor),
Simon Bailey (Bass), Ensemble il capriccio (Baroque Orchestra),
Maulbronn Chamber Choir.
Conductor: Jürgen Budday.
A concert recording from the church of the German
UNESCO World Heritage Site Maulbronn Monastery
HD Recording · DDD · Double Album · c. 163 Minutes (2h:43m)
2 CD
EUR 33,00SpotifyDeezerNapsterGoogle PlayApple MusicNaxos Music LibraryAmazon MusicTidaliTunesPrime PhonicPresto Classical HDReview

Almost three hours of superb-sounding music...

This recording is in many ways a real treasure. Its chief value is that it vividly captures a wonderful performance of Handel’s final oratorio, giving the listener a fine impression of the venue, the medieval Maulbronn monastery in southern Germany. The opening notes of the thrillingly dramatic overture grab the listener’s interest and the well-chosen soloists make a vivid impression.
The story involves the military leader, Jephtha (tenor), who is asked by his brother, Zebul (baritone) to lead the Israelites against their oppressors, the Ammonites. Jephtha vows that, if successful, he will sacrifice the first person he sees after the battle. This turns out to be his daughter, Iphis (soprano). His wife, Storgè (mezzo-soprano) and Iphis’s fiancé Hamor (counter-tenor), are suitably horrified, as are the onlooking Israelites. An angel (soprano) transmutes Iphis's sentence to life as a virgin; hallelujahs are sung.
Benjamin Hulett is outstanding as Jephtha who at first is exuberant when facing his military task, then anguished and horrified at the results of his vow. His accompagnato “Deeper, and deeper still” would be worthy of a musical dramatization of King Lear. The other main role is that of Iphis, sung by American soprano Kirsten Blaise; she also must express a wide range of emotions and carries it off extremely well. Simon Bailey is rich-voiced and stalwart as Zebul, and Annelie Sophie Müller as Storgè is blessed with a voice that has a rosy bloom about it. David Allsopp gets off to an uncertain start as Hamor but in the end rises to full worthy participation in his duet with Iphis, plus a quartet and quintet with the other principals.
The 39-member choir and 26-member orchestra provide exactly the right sound for this great work. The orchestra use specially reconstructed period instruments tuned to the historically accurate a=415 Hz. Jürgen Budday’s tempi are well-judged throughout. Some might find the acoustic to be overly resonant, but I find it helps bring to life a performance I wish I had been able to attend. But there are almost three hours of superb-sounding music on just two CDs.
Still the stated aim of K&K is to capture an outstanding performance in which “the performers, audience, opus and room enter into an intimate dialogue that is...unique and unrepeatable”. This they have accomplished.

© 2014 ConcertoNet.com, Michael Johnson

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