Saturday, December 31, 2011

Song of the Year

So it's goodbye to 2011, with the good news that Tony Pappano has been knighted in the New Year Honours, the prospect of hearing a heap of Debussy and Delius in the next 12 months, a "so long and thanks for all the fish" to Mahler and Liszt, and a gentle reminder that in April it'll be 100 years since the Titanic sank.

The Song of the Year? It is 'Ombra di Nube' by Refice - we heard it a couple of weeks ago on JDCMB sung by the diva for whom it was created, the great Claudia Muzio. If you were lucky enough to catch Anna Caterina Antonacci's lunchtime recital from the Wigmore Hall earlier in December, you will have experienced her magnificent performance of it there. Lincinio Refice (1885-1954) was a priest and taught at the Scuola Pontifica for sacred music in Rome across some 40 years. Apparently he died on the rostrum while conducting his own opera, Cecilia, inspired by the life of music's patron saint. He sought a singer "with God in their throat" and found one in Muzio. The words of 'Ombra di Nube' are a prayer, a plea and a reminder of the eternal beauty that remains when the pain goes.

Here is is again from a man whose voice is gradually becoming, for many of us, a soundtrack to the highest and lowest moments of our days: the times to celebrate, times to remember, times to look forward to and times when we need the comfort, spirituality and inspiration that great art brings. He has helped to bring this exquisite sliver of beauty to a wider audience this year, including it on his Verismo Arias CD and in many recitals around the world; in London it was his final encore. He's becoming both the thinking woman's Bocelli and the living person's Caruso: he is, of course, Jonas Kaufmann.

Happy New Year to all our readers. May 2012 bring to everyone peace, happiness, hope and justice.

And as a post-Christmas bonus, a little something I just stumbled across - an entire concert from Moscow in 2008 by Kaufmann and Dmitri Hvorostovsky.