Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-1787) is enjoying something of a 21st-century renaissance.
Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-1787) is enjoying something of a 21st-century renaissance. Two fine recordings of his opera Iphigenie en Tauride (on Telarc and Archiv) have come out recently, and superstar mezzo Cecilia Bartoli has a new hit recital disc devoted to the German operatic genius. Going from strength to strength over the past decade, Belgian conductor René Jacobs has been giving new luster to rarely heard Baroque operas and oratorios for Harmonia Mundi, as well as directing a wonderfully fresh reading of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte. These triumphs have set the stage for his exciting revitalization of Gluck's 0rfeo ed Euridice, the composer's best-known work and one abounding in melodious arias, dynamic choruses, and orchestral tone-painting. A former countertenor, Jacobs is a consummate singer's conductor, but his fine way with a period-instrument orchestra and peerless sense of dramatic gestalt also help make this disc the year's most compelling opera recording.—BB