Paul O’Dette, professor of lute and professor of conducting and ensembles at the Eastman School of Music, is receiving international recognition for the albums My Favorite Dowland and Charpentier: La Descente d’Orphee aux enfers; La Couronne de Fleurs.
My Favorite Dowland (Harmonia Mundi, May 2014), O’Dette’s personal selection of works by one of the lute’s most prominent composers, has received the September 2014 Diapason d’Or, a recommendation of outstanding classical music recordings given by reviewers of the Diapason magazine in France. The album was also named a “Record of the Month” by Musicweb International. O’Dette, who had already recorded the complete works of Dowland for Harmonia Mundi two decades earlier, felt it was time to revisit some of his favorite pieces to see how his approach to Dowland’s music has evolved over time.
“The new recording…was not meant to replace or surpass my older recordings, but was meant to present another perspective on the music, to provide a richer view of these masterpieces,” O’Dette says.
Charpentier’s La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers and La Couronne de Fleurs (Classic Produktion Osnabrück, April 2014), was recorded by musicians of the Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF), and has received Gramophone Magazine’s Editor’s Choice for September 2014, and has been called “a stylish, intense performance” by the same publication. Musicweb International chose the album as a July 2014 Recording of the Month, while Fono Forum wrote, “Everything works splendidly together so that the 79 minutes of playing time seem to fly by. French baroque opera can really be so beautiful!”
As BEMF co-artistic directors, O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs led the recording in Germany. The album features Eastman Assistant Professor of Conducting and Ensembles Christel Thielmann, as well as alumni Avi Stein (BM Organ and Harpsichord 97) and Zachary Wilder (BM Voice 2006). The recording was released in March 2014 to coincide with BEMF’s North American tour of the same repertoire.
“During the recording, I felt as if each take was as beautiful as I could imagine the music sounding, yet the singers just kept delivering more and more moving performances,” O’Dette recalls. “This was truly one of the most musically satisfying recordings I have been a part of.”
As one of the most influential figures in the study and performance of early music, O’Dette has helped define the technical and stylistic standards to which 21st-century performers aspire. With more than 130 recordings to his name, O’Dette has been nominated for Gramophone Magazine’s Record of the Year award and has been recognized with five Grammy nominations and a 1996 Grammy Award. Each volume of his acclaimed series of John Dowland’s Complete Lute Works has received the prestigious Diapason d’Or, and the 5-CD box set received the Diapason d’Or of the Year Award. His discography includes Le Secret des Muses (music of Nicolas Vallet) and The Royal Lewters (music of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I’s favorite lutenists), which garnered a CHOC du Monde le la Musique, a Diapason d’Or, and the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik.
O’Dette also serves as the Boston Early Music Festival’s musical director for opera and orchestral projects. He is also an avid researcher and has published numerous articles on issues of historical performance practice and co-authored the Dowland entry in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. He is currently completing a critical edition of the works of Marco dall’Aquila, an important 16th-century lute composer.
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