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Gluck: Ezio [Double CD]

Max Emanuel Cencic, Alan Curtis Audio CD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: £16.19 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Performer: Sonia Prina, Max Emanuel Cencic, Ann Hallenberg, Topi Lehtipuu, Julian Prégardien, et al.
  • Orchestra: Il Complesso Barocco
  • Conductor: Alan Curtis
  • Composer: Christoph Willibald Gluck
  • Audio CD (5 Sep 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Double CD
  • Label: Virgin Classics
  • ASIN: B0057JWWI2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 49,227 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Allegro
2. Andante
3. Allegro di molto
4. Marcia
5. Recitativo: Signoe, vincemmo
6. Aria: Se tu la reggi al volo
7. Recitativo: Ezio, lascia ch'io stringa
8. Aria: Pensa a serbarmi, o cara
9. Recitativo: E soffrirai che sposa abbia la figlia
10. Aria: Caro padre
See all 21 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Recitativo: Qual silenzio è mai questo!
2. Aria : Dubbioso amante
3. Recitativo: E puoi d'un tuo delitto
4. Aria: Va' dal furor portata
5. Recitativo: Che fo? Dove mi volgo?
6. Recagli quell'acciaro
7. Recitativo: Folle è colui che al tuo favor si fida
8. Aria: Nasce al bosco in rozza cuna
9. Recitativo: Olà, qui si conduca il prigionier
10. Aria: Ecco alle mie catene
See all 24 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Product Description

Alan Curtis, described by the New York Times as 'one of the great scholar-musicians of recent times', conducts a brilliant cast including Sonia Prina, Ann Hallenberg, Max-Emanuel Cencic and Topi Lehtipuu in the original, 1750 version of Gluck s Ezio, described by Curtis as 'from a dramatic point of view, perhaps the finest of Gluck s pre-Orfeo operas'.

Product Description

2CD Composer: SONIA PRINA/MAX EMANUEL CENCIC/ANN HALLENBERG

Customer Reviews

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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contralto Sonia Prina is brilliant. 23 April 2012
Format:Audio CD
Mr Rogers is quite right when he says Contralto Sonia Prina is Superb...

Alan Curtis choosed once again the cast very carefully, the great Sonia Prina was vocally spectacular and immensely moving in the title role, a Royal warm timbre with an unmatched vocal coloratura, Prina's dark and strongly focussed tone, the perfect diction, agility and precision is well-suited to this military hero.

Ann Hallenberg always singing with great musicianship and expressiveness.

Topi Lehtipuu adds superb musicality and emotional intensity in a demanding role.

Cencic was quite a surprise for me, not the biggest fan of his style.

The Soloist who in my opinion disappoints is Mayuko Karasawa ( kermes was unavailable ? Invernizzi ? Piau ? Cangemi ? ) it's a minor role but the problems of intonation were just too obvious.

Curtis and Prina a partnership for many years !
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
This is an attractively packaged nice performance of an early Gluck opera, much less tedious than early Mozart operas and certainly well worth getting to know. The cast, featuring many of the now 'usual suspects' from Alan Curtis Handel opera recordings, is mostly excellent if you can deal with the sour edged singing of contralto Sonia Prina in the role of Ezio. Certainly she has an 'interesting' voice but, to my ear, she produces some appallingly squalid sounds that leave me cringing every time. Quite honestly she must have one of the ugliest sounding voices I have ever heard (and I don't say that lightly). Note to Mr Curtis: Please don't let her sing in any more of these operas! Still, the set is well worth having for Ann Hallenberg and Topi Lehtiphuu alone, both of whom do not disappoint with their singing, even if Lehtipuu sounds far too beautiful to be convincing as a villain - you just cant help falling in love with his Mozartian-style singing.

Alan Curtis provides well controlled energetic accompaniments even if the voices, as recorded here, are a little too forward in relation to the orchestra. This, together with the aforementioned cast offender, would be my reasons for withholding a fifth star. But generally the reasons for acquiring it far outweigh its drawbacks especially at this price. Indeed, each of the arias is musically substantial enough to stand as a set piece in its own right and I fail to see why this opera has suffered such neglect. This being a Metastasio libretto, one can make direct comparisons with the same text settings Mozart used in two of his arias, namely 'Va, dal furor portata' and 'Misera, dove son... Ah! non son io che parlo'.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gluck reforms, schmuck reforms 5 Nov 2011
By E. L. Wisty TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Christoph Willibald Gluck's name is indelibly associated with his much vaunted "operatic reforms". Personally I'm someone whose operatic taste, chronologically speaking, doesn't extend beyond Handel. But seeing as this is one of Gluck's pre-reform works and it's by Curtis, I thought I would give it a go.

Ezio is based around the historical characters of Aetius (Ezio), the 5th century general who stopped Attila's advance, and the emperor Valentinian III (Valentiniano), and actual intrigues involving these and the senator Maximus (Massimo). The chronology of events in the opera is however somewhat confused compared to the reality, and, ironically for a plot which revolves around Ezio's steadfast loyalty to Valentiniano in the face of being falsely implicated in a plot to kill the emperor, ignores the fact that Aetius in fact died by Valentinian III's own hand!

Gluck took the same Metastasio libretto as did Handel for his Ezio of 1732. Handel had cut down the libretto significantly, and the notes to that recording suggest that the slightly confusing result led to that work's lack of popularity with opera-goers. This shorter Gluck work for me is wanting, both musically and dramatically, when set aside a Handel or a Vivaldi.

It's rescued in this recording somewhat however by the cast, including dependable and solid performers contralto Sonia Prina (Ezio), mezzo Ann Hallenberg (Fulvia, daughter of Massimo), tenor Topi Lehtipuu (Massimo) and then of course the gorgeously voiced countertenor Max Emanuel Cencic as Valentiniano.

The two discs come packaged in cardboard sleeves, in a hinged cardboard box with booklet provided notes, synopsis, libretto and translation (English, French, German).
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who? Handel? Porpora? 13 May 2013
By Giordano Bruno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Imagine that you've turned on your local NPR station in the middle of this unfamiliar opera, and you're trying to guess the identity of the composer. Hmmm. It's too inventive for Galuppi and just plain too good for Hasse... Wait! I've got it! It's a lost opera by Vivaldi, composed in his last year, in 1741 in Vienna and just rediscovered!

Nooo, it's not the Red Priest, though Vivaldi would have had no cause to be ashamed of this masterwork. And unless you're a topnotch conductor or musicologist, your guess isn't half bad. The opera is "Ezio" by the great ITALIAN composer Christoph Willibald Gluck!

Huh? Wasn't Gluck a Bavarian? And isn't he famous chiefly for reforming the conventions and excesses of Italian opera seria with his compositions "Orfeo ed Euridice" and "Alceste" in Vienna in the 1760s? Yes, that's the standard narrative, and if the only works you've heard by Gluck are those two plus some of his later French operas, you needn't apologize for being surprised by "Ezio," which was composed in 1750 and premiered in Prague. It's Italianate to its toes. The Italian libretto is by Pietro Metastasio, the very poet whose texts had dominated opera stages since the 1720s and the artificer against whom Gluck's reforms were supposedly directed. Except for one trio at the end of act two and one full cast ensemble at the finale, "Ezio" is composed entirely of recitativos and solo da capo arias, most of them seven or more minutes long. The arias are as florid as any by Handel or Vinci, with astoundingly flamboyant embellishments and cadenzas on the reprises ... exactly the sort of star-power castrato virtuosity that Gluck denounced. The orchestra is there to showcase the singers, whose earnings no doubt exceeded the composer's comfortably. Here's the paradox: Gluck, the reformer and prophet of "classical" opera, wrote very fine Italian Baroque.

Except for the mandatory "fine lieto" - happy ending - Ezio is one of Metastasio's most affective dramas. The six characters are based on Roman historical figures of the 5th C: the general Flavius Aetius (Ezio), the emperor Valentinian III, the traitorous patrician Petronius Maximus, plus Valentinian's sister Onoria, Massimo's daughter Fulvia, and Ezio's loyal friend Varro. Ezio and Fulvia are pledged as lovers, but Valentinian wants to wed Fulvia, Onoria wants Ezio, and Massimo wants to kill Valentinian and blame Ezio. But the plot is less convoluted than those of many Baroque operas, and the character portrayals are subtler and more complex. It's the variety and the psychological aptness of the arias assigned to each character that make this opera particularly stage-worthy. "Ezio" had previously been set, by the way, by both Porpora and Handel.

The noble Ezio is sung by contralto Sonia Prina, one of the brightest stars of our operatic era. She's perhaps too diminutive to sing this "trousers" role on stage -- though she did so in 2008 -- but her vocal timbres are more convincingly "masculine" in this recording than most countertenors could produce. Hers is a gorgeous voice trained to perfection in Baroque vocal technique. The countertenor of this cast is Max Emanuel Cencic, in the role of Valentiniano. Handel, I'm sure, would have given us at least one duet between sung compelling artists, but Gluck was too "traditional."

Two delightful surprises! Mezzo-soprano Ann Hallenberg sings Fulvia and sounds better than I've ever heard her before. More secure. More even across her full range. Tenor Topi Lehtipuu, better known for roles in Wagner, sings the role of the villainous Massimo, whose nine-minute aria at the close of Act One is the sweetest, suavest, loveliest piece in the opera. Lehtipuu has immaculate HIPP technique! Superb breath control and phrasing! Incredible flexibility and agility! On top of gorgeous timbres! Why would a guy who can sing Baroque bel canto so superlatively waste his time on Wagner? ;-)

A lot of the credit for the polish of this performance must be due to conductor/scholar Alan Curtis, with his ensemble Il Complesso Barocco. Curtis is a rehearsal perfectionist, as the results demonstrate. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Curtis had a strong hand in the "improvisation" of the embellishments and cadenzas of this recording. Obviously they were prepared and practiced, and their aesthetic unity implies Curtis's supervision. If Gluck was justified, in his later period in Vienna and Paris, in complaining about the overheated vocal pyrotechnics of his divos and divas, all he really needed was an authoritarian conductor like Alan Curtis. Il Complesso Barocco is a magniloquent prsence on this recording, with eight violins, two violas, two cellos, double bass, two oboes, two horns, bassoon, and harpsichord. The libretto is included in Italian and English. This is one of the most pleasurable CD recordings of a Baroque opera I've heard in recent years.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rousing Ezio 19 Feb 2013
By Scott H Hawkins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is a highly enjoyable performance. Written for a premiere in Prague in 1750 the score adheres to the standard opera seria form of recitatives to move the action forward and a plethora of arias to describe the characters states of mind at each point. The title role, sung by Sonia Prina, is a tour de force for the mezzo and one to which she is well up to, executing her passage work and trills with ease as well as expressing pathos. Her competitor for the hand of Ezios' beloved is performed by Max Emanuel Cencic who delivers a performance which exudes the arrogance of Valentiniano III. His muscular countertenor blazes forth in one show-stopping aria after another with impunity for the roles' difficult coloratura. Ann Hallenberg sings the role of Fulvia with great sensitivity though I would have preferred a bit more fire in her Act 3 aria Ah, non son io che parlo. Soprano Mayuko Karasawa only gets two arias in the show but she sings them beautifully with perfect intonation and a lovely blend of color in her voice. I am familiar tihe Topi Lehtipuu's voice from performances and he lives up to his standard here. The voice is articulate in passage work and produced with a tone that is always kept centered. Julian Pregardien, as Varo, sings his one aria with gusto. He proves that it does not matter the size of the part but how it is performed. The cast is lead by Alan Curtis and his ensemble Il Complesso Barocco with a hand that is firm and alert to the scores' possibilities as he guides the singers through the score. This performance is a must for any opera lover.
1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Opera non seria 28 Dec 2012
By Dr. Peter J. Glidden - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is highly enjoyable, Sonia Prina and Max Emmanuel Cencic, among the rest of the stellar cast, is just great
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