CLASSICAL CD and DVD Feature Page

By: Jpophelp  09-12-2011


Release Date: Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Although this is not a live recording it was made after a series of staged performances in Japan in 1995 and retains a number of ‘effects’ from them (smashing crockery, the clanking of Nick Shadow’s machine for transforming stones into bread, the cutting of cards in the graveyard scene, thunder as Shadow vanishes). More importantly it sounds like a real and sharply acted performance in, I would have said, a fairly small theatre. The cast audibly react to each other and are not afraid of using mezza voce when appropriate.. McNair’s, appropriately, is a Mozartian voice: a Pamina, one might say, and her phrasing is often lovely (“Although the heart for love dare anything” is beautifully done), her Lullaby tender and touching.. Rolfe Johnson is a debonair Tom.. [F]rom “With roses crowned” onwards he gets closer to pathos than any Rake but Alexander Young in the composer’s own recording. He and McNair make an exquisite thing of their quietly sung, poignant “Could it then have been known?”. Adams’s diction and vocal acting are immaculate, Bunnell effectively plays Mother Goose perfectly straight as a foil to Henschel’s broad Baba (though her sincere concern for Anne in their brief scene together adds depth to the character). Bostridge is a suavely precise Sellem; if anyone is planning another recording of this opera he would surely make a splendid Rakewell. The chorus are excellent, their English crisply enunciated.

Ozawa delights in the clean, bright textures of this score and, quite obviously, so do his orchestra: the solo clarinet loves the poised line of his obbligato in “Love, too frequently betrayed”, the two bassoons clearly enjoy themselves greatly in “Since it is not by merit”, and throughout there is real zest to the playing.- Michael Oliver, Gramophone [6/1997]


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