I was amazed to see in the BBC Music magazine for April the name of Christine Brewer in the list of The 20 Greatest Sopranos of all Time. Where was I when that happened? Naturally, Fleming, Netrebko and Gheorghiu didn't make the list. Brewer is number 17, thankfully below Nilsson (5) and Flagstad (9). Jane Eaglen does not appear. If you listen to clips of Brewer on Amazon, her style is sometimes a bit quirky. YouTube has nothing. I had seen her in DC last year in Mahler's Symphony of a Thousand.
I think this is a one event ranking: she makes the top 20 for her recording with Donald Runnicles of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. I thought I should become better informed, so I immediately hopped in my car [my horoscope said I should obey any whims I had that day] and drove to Berkeley [the closest place to buy anything interesting in the classical CD department] to see what I could find. I found it.
Her voice is big, full and beautiful, possibly more beautiful than her higher ranking competitors.
In a way Schwarzkopf (11) is also a one event star--without her Der Rosenkavalier performance would we idolize her the way we do?
In the same magazine is an article about the Joyce Hatto scandal. Wikipedia has the complete story uncovered by Gramophone magazine. It is bizarre. She was born, played the piano, was reviewed, even made recordings which were not incredible. She stopped playing in public 1976 but lived on to 2006. Then after her death, her husband released a bunch of recordings, claiming they were her playing. She instantly became famous. The only problem is they exactly match certain other well-known recordings. I would think an exact rhythmic match alone would prove plagiarism.
On Saturday I drove to Davis to see if I could get a ticket to see the Philadelphia Orchestra with Matthias Goerne. It was sold out, and I drove back home without attending. Now I read in Playbill that he flew back to Germany for family reasons and did not appear. He is scheduled for San Francisco this weekend.
All this driving around can mean only one thing: intense boredom.