Clive Paget

Clive Paget

Clive was Editor of Limelight magazine from 2015 to 2017, when he moved to New York and became Editor at Large. Clive writes features and reviews on a wide range of musical topics, but is especially enthusiastic about all things to do with opera, early music and British classical music. From his New York base he is able to interview artists scheduled to tour in Australia and keep abreast of the latest developments internationally.


Articles by Clive Paget

October 5, 2012
CD and Other Review

Review: MOUTON: Tu Es Petrus (The Brabant Ensemble, Stephen Rice)

Jean Mouton (1459–1522) was a beneficed priest whose composing career developed slowly in provincial France until 1501, when he took a position in Grenoble. Spotted by Anne of Brittany, Mouton jumped ship to work in her chapel and subsequently that of her son-in-law Francis I. He was probably therefore in charge of the musical festivities when the latter monarch hosted Henry VIII on the famous Field of the Cloth of Gold. From these lofty heights he attracted the attention of the Medici Pope, Leo X and died a revered master and wealthy man at a respectable age. His most frequently recorded piece is the sublime Christmas antiphon, Nesciens Mater. The work has an instantly memorable main theme and an ingenious canonic structure, combining constraint with variety, to create one of the choral masterpieces of the 16th century. This disc, however, contains all of Mouton’s eight-part choral works in a veritable feast of polyphonic discoveries. The centrepiece is his Missa Tu es Petrus which demonstrates that while Mouton may be rhythmically uniform, “his melody flows in a supple thread,” as 16th-century music theorist Heinrich Glarean put it. Indeed, it is this tuneful quality that makes the program so beguiling – it’s not…

September 19, 2012
CD and Other Review

Review: MOUTON: Tu Es Petrus (The Brabant Ensemble, Stephen Rice)

Jean Mouton (1459–1522) was a beneficed priest whose composing career developed slowly in provincial France until 1501, when he took a position in Grenoble. Spotted by Anne of Brittany, Mouton jumped ship to work in her chapel and subsequently that of her son-in-law Francis I. He was probably therefore in charge of the musical festivities when the latter monarch hosted Henry VIII on the famous Field of the Cloth of Gold. From these lofty heights he attracted the attention of the Medici Pope, Leo X and died a revered master and wealthy man at a respectable age. His most frequently recorded piece is the sublime Christmas antiphon, Nesciens Mater. The work has an instantly memorable main theme and an ingenious canonic structure, combining constraint with variety, to create one of the choral masterpieces of the 16th century. This disc, however, contains all of Mouton’s eight- part choral works in a veritable feast of polyphonic discoveries.  The centrepiece is his Missa Tu es Petrus which demonstrates that while Mouton may be rhythmically uniform, “his melody flows in a supple thread,” as 16th-century music theorist Heinrich Glarean put it. Indeed, it is this tuneful quality that makes the program so beguiling – it’s…

August 16, 2012
CD and Other Review

Review: STRAUSS: Elektra (Angela Denoke, Felicity Palmer, LSO/Gergiev)

In 1910, the Band of the Grenadier Guards serenaded Her Majesty with a selection from Elektra. (George V promptly sent down a message saying he didn’t know what it was that they had just played, but it was never to be played again!) Despite the royal vote of no confidence, the opera has become a modern classic and a classic of modernism, in which Strauss went further harmonically than he would ever again.  In this live 2010 recording, the LSO’s principal conductor shows not only that he appreciates Strauss’s daring orchestrations, but also that he’s a master of the dramatic pacing in Hofmannsthal’s gripping Sophocles adaptation. The members of the orchestra play their hearts out in a finely engineered recording that, thanks to Gergiev, is frequently revelatory. Sadly, this recording has a massive drawback in the Elektra of Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet. A pronnounced vibrato across the entire range is the first problem to beset the ear. Coupled with a tendency to fall flat at the top or miss certain key notes altogether, her performance is a bit of a roadcrash. The rest of the cast ranges from superb (Dame Felicity Palmer’s baleful Clytemnestra steals the show) to acceptable (Angela Denoke’s Chrysothemis…

June 14, 2012
CD and Other Review

Review: HANDEL: Il Pastor Fido (Lucy Crowe, La Nuova Musica)

Looking back, an intimate pastoral was an unlikely follow-up to the splashy Rinaldo, Handel’s first London triumph, with its trumpets, crusaders and flying sorceress. First performed at the Queen’s Theatre in 1712, Il Pastor Fido managed only seven performances, one eyewitness complaining in his diary, “The Scene represented only ye Country of Arcadia. Ye Habits were old – ye Opera Short.” Listening to this fresh and tuneful work today, however, it’s a mystery why we’ve had to wait until now for a recording. This is the Harmonia Mundi debut of London-based La Nuova Musica, led by David Bates, and it’s an auspicious start. Handel’s delicate orchestration involves a mere 18 players: just strings and three woodwind, but the magical effects he achieves are impressively diverse. Bates lovingly shapes every phrase with imagination and exemplary attention to detail – just listen to the exquisite pizzicato violins and flute in the sleep sequence in Act Two. His line-up of young singers is equally impressive. Anna Dennis as the shepherd Mirtillo is a singer of great daring and considerable facility, characterising her arias with passionate flair and offering some bravura top notes. Lucy Crowe’s beautiful soprano is brought into play most affectingly as…

May 31, 2012
CD and Other Review

Review: WAGNER: Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg

Among the more daring projects underway for the Wagner centenary is Dutch-based PentaTone’s plan to record Wagner’s ten later operas on SACD, all from concert performances and all conducted by seasoned Wagnerian Marek Janowski. Following a superb sonic rendition of The Flying Dutchman last year, here we have Die Meistersinger, to be followed rapidly by Parsifal next month. Wagner’s comic masterpiece can be a hard act to pull off, requiring dramatic singers with stamina who can act with a lightness of touch when required. Quite a feat, and one that nearly comes off here, if not quite. First, the pluses. The sonic engineering is superb – not quite as orchestrally revelatory as the Dutchman but you’ll be hard pressed to find a better sounding opera recording. Albert Dohmen as Hans Sachs is also mightily impressive, firm of tone and offering great textual insight into this multifaceted character. Edith Haller’s Eva is charming and Dietrich Henschel makes Beckmesser a formidable rival, if pushed at the very top of the voice. The sense of ensemble is also excellent with fine chorus work and a great sense of occasion, all moving forward swimmingly in Janowski’s pacey reading. It’s the two tenors who let…

May 8, 2012
CD and Other Review

Review: Helden (Klaus Florian Vogt, Deutsche Oper Berlin/Schneider)

“Klaus Florian Vogt is Bayreuth’s leading tenor – he has a unique voice, perfect technique and last but not least the perfect look for a leading man in the works of Wagner.” Thus the marketing hype for the Sony debut of the latest heldentenor held up as the great white hope. Having enjoyed his performance as the Prince on a recent Rusalka DVD, I wish I could respond more positively to what is on offer here. Vogt kicks off with an aria from Der Freischütz – not a bad choice.  The voice is light but well suited to Weber (if occasionally phrases droop below the note). Mozart and Lortzing also sit comfortably in his clean, high, lyrical voice although here, as elsewhere, a shortage of engagement with the texts bedevil the performance.  The major problems lie with Wagner. His Lohengrin has been praised in some quarters, but the “detached quality” of the Grail-knight, that some have described as other-worldly, feels to me simply a “detached quality”. His Winterstürme is similarly passionless, while his prize song comes across as a pretty enough lied but it doesn’t really sound like the reward is worth the winning. The orchestral support from the Berlin Opera…

April 26, 2012
CD and Other Review

Review: The Flute King – Music for Frederick the Great (Emmanuel Pahud)

This year marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of that gifted flautist, composer and enlightened patron of the arts, King Frederick the Great of Prussia. To celebrate, Emmanuel Pahud presents a 2-CD set of works by the glittering circle of musicians that Frederick gathered about him in Berlin. He kicks off with what is probably the most impressive work on the disc, one of CPE Bach’s most magnificent concertos, which shows the forward-looking qualities that make him the most interesting composer of the period. We then have charming works by Benda, Quantz and a promising example by the royal master himself. All are delightful. The second CD is even better, its more intimate chamber works ranging from a Trio Sonata from JS Bach’s Musical Offering through to two compelling sonatas from Bach’s eldest son. Frederick’s contribution is complemented by that of his (more talented?) sister, Anna Amalia, Princess of Prussia. It goes without saying that Pahud, principal flautist with the Berlin Philharmonic, shines throughout and although he eschews a period instrument his style is perfectly tempered to the performance practice of the day. The Kammerakademie Potsdam provides spirited support, led by the excellent Trevor Pinnock on harpsichord.

April 12, 2012
CD and Other Review

Review: SERAPH (trumpet: Alison Balsom; BBC Scottish SO/Renes)

Recent years have seen a renaissance of interest in the solo trumpet with a good handful of players reaching out beyond the Haydn and Hummel to explore more challenging contemporary repertoire. Philippe Shartz ensured a limited market for his brave foray by including Birtwistle’s demanding Endless Parade on his excellent Chandos album, but here Alison Balsom plays a safer hand with equal success in a program of edgy yet approachable “modern” works. The appetiser and title work is James MacMillan’s Seraph, a piece dedicated to Balsom, which wittily misquotes the opening of the Haydn concerto before taking us on an involving neo-classical journey. The main course, however, is a pair of tangy, postwar works from either side of the iron curtain. The Arutiunian concerto with its attractive Armenian inflections has had several outings on CD and here proves as engaging as ever. The discovery for me was the 15-minute rhapsody by the German composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann. Like Tippett in A Child Of Our Time, Zimmermann uses a spiritual, in this case Nobody Knows De Trouble I See as a metaphor for the need for racial understanding. It’s a beautiful work, as finely calculated as a Hopper painting and like…

February 9, 2012
CD and Other Review

Review: HANDEL: Agrippina (Akadamie fur Alte Musik Berlin/Jacobs)

Agrippina, third wife of the Emperor Claudius, placed her son Nero on the throne after poisoning her husband with mushrooms. Her ungrateful offspring then had her hacked to death after she survived a rigged boating accident. So, not exactly Comedy Tonight from Handel then? Wrong. This 1709 work written for Venice is one of the funniest “parody” operas around.  The plot concerns the scheming matriarch’s attempts to have her son declared Claudius’s successor over the virtuous Ottone. Nerone, however, is focused solely on his passion for Poppea. She, of course, is in love with Ottone while pursued by the randy but foolish Emperor. A sort of Carry On Claudius thus ensues. A Handel opera from René Jacobs is always an event and this recording is a veritable cracker. Alexandrina Pendatchanska is a knockout as the wicked Empress, sometimes a railing harpy full of vocal fireworks, other times a wheedling manipulator of her doltish husband. Jennifer Rivera has a ball as the petulant Nerone, while Sunhae Im is a charming Poppea. Countertenor Bejun Mehta gives us a beautifully sung Ottone, raising this secondary role to something like the hero of the piece. Marcos Fink does a resonant turn as the bumbling…