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Strauss: Ariadne On Naxos (Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme) Double CD


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Product details

  • Performer: Stephen Fry
  • Orchestra: Scottish Chamber Orchestra
  • Conductor: Richard Armstrong
  • Composer: Richard Strauss
  • Audio CD (31 Aug. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Double CD
  • Label: Chandos Opera In English
  • ASIN: B003WL7E9E
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 213,601 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme Suite, Op. 60, TrV228c - Various Performers
2. The Prologue - Various Performers
Disc: 2
1. The Opera - Various Performers

Product Description

Product Description

Christine Brewer, soprano - Robert Dean Smith, ténor - Gillian Keith, soprano - Alice Coote, mezzo-soprano - John Graham-Hall, ténor - Wynne Evans, ténor... - Scottish Chamber Orchestra - Sir Richard Armstrong, direction

Review

An excellent English-language performance that can stand alongside (the)benchmarks. **** --Classic fm magazine,Nov'10

A strong and excellent recording quality make this a must for Straussians. --Gramophone,Nov'10

This was to have been Sir Charles Mackerras's project.But in the last year of his life,knowing something had to give,he pulled out.He left a magnificent cast and orchestra,though in the hands of another knight,the vintage Strauss/Wagner conductor Richard Armstrong. the results are more delicous than I could have hoped for my Desert Island opera. Performance ***** Recording ***** BBC MUSIC OPERA CHOICE --BBC Music Magazine,Dec'10

ONE of the TOP ALBUMS OF 2010 --Sunday Times

This was to have been Sir Charles Mackerras's project.But in the last year of his life,knowing something had to give,he pulled out.He left a magnificent cast and orchestra,though in the hands of another knight,the vintage Strauss/Wagner conductor Richard Armstrong. the results are more delicous than I could have hoped for my Desert Island opera. Performance ***** Recording ***** BBC MUSIC OPERA CHOICE --BBC Music Magazine,Dec'10

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I must applaud the decision to include the orchestral suite "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme" culled and adapted by Strauss for the original play preceding the opera with the revised opera version-they are presented as separate but related entities, and the suite does not segue into the opera. As far as I can recall, this has not been done before, and yet it makes perfect sense to do so.
Having praised the Winthertur version, I am bound to observe that this is at least as good, wonderfully played by the SCO recorded in the nicely resonant acoustic of the Usher Hall by the Couzens team, and directed with extraordinary sympathy and flair by one of the great undervalued artists we have in the UK, Sir Richard Armstrong. The balance of instruments is particularly fine.
While not being diametrically opposed to opera in English , it is not my preference, despite the Goodall Ring and many wonderful performances enjoyed at the ENO and Glyndebourne. Apart from the loss of the euphony of the original language we are used to, it almost invariably results in changes in the balance and rhythm of the work. When Wagner revised Tannhauser for Paris, it was performed as were all works, in French, and in order to accommodate the language, Wagner had to lengthen notes or shorten them, and add new notes in places. This is a case where opera in the vernacular actually changed the music itself (Wagner removed all these changes for the next performance of the revised version in Vienna-hence it should be called the "Vienna" version, not the "Paris", but I digress).
I have in fact attended 2 successful performances of Ariadne in English over the years, the last being particularly fine conducted by James Lockhart and starring the wonderful Linda Esther Gray at Gyndebourne.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Joyce TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 Dec. 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
"Ariadne auf Naxos" is for my money the most readily accessible of Richard Strauss's operatic works; a host of musical styles are evoked and there is a marvelous roster of singing roles, both large and small. This particular version is, of course, sung in English and this is a piece which works particularly well in translation, especially when it is performed by a group of singers so adept at word-painting as here. This is particularly true of the Prologue, where we have the added bonus of Stephen Fry as the Major Domo, superciliousness personified; his exchanges with the beautifully sung and enunciated Music Master of the veteran baritone Alan Opie are a special delight. The mezzo soprano Alice Coote is wholly convincing in the "trouser role" of the Composer and John Graham -Hall provides another of his incisive cameos as the Dancing Master. He reappears in the Opera proper as part of the lively quartet of Comedians, led by the mellifluous Harlequin of Roderick Williams, who sings his little song most beautifully. Vocal fireworks are in the capable hands (or voice) of the Canadian soprano Gillian Keith, who dispatches Zerbinetta's fiendishly difficult coloratura pyrotechnics with infectious aplomb. The nymphs and dryads sing well too, but it is the testing roles of Ariadne and Bacchus upon which the success of this opera can stand or fall; the roles on this recording are taken by two American singers, Christine Brewer and Robert Dean Smith, and they can stand comparison with their illustrious predecessors. Christine Brewer is, of course, one of the best exponents of this repertoire performing today and she is on top form here, while Robert Dean Smith copes admirably with the punishing tessitura of Bacchus, faring rather better than many previous exponents of the role on record.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER on 27 Feb. 2013
Format: Audio CD
First a word of praise for the orchestral playing here. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra under Sir Richard Armstrong sound absolutely wonderful: sample the Overture the Opera which opens CD2 to hear them soar in one of those long, luscious melodies that Strauss excelled at, characteristically followed by a spikier, more dramatic passage before the minor goddesses - as Anna Russell used to say of the Rhine maidens, "a sort of aquatic Andrews Sisters" - sing their tripping barcarolle in close harmony.

The singing is of a very high order, too, featuring an assemblage of some of the best modern English-speaking singers around today. Christine Brewer's Wagnerian soprano is a tad unwieldy compared with the greatest exponents such as della Casa and Janowitz, and she is quite often a bit shrill and edgy but it's a pleasure to hear her reign in her big sound to produce pianissimi and add poignancy to Ariadne's plight rather than just belt it. Another American, Robert Dean Smith is a bit strained as is virtually every tenor undertaking this pig of a part; in my experience only Ben Heppner in his prime for Sinopoli and Jan Peerce for Leinsdorf have really encompassed its demands. Perhaps the triumph of this recording is Gillian Keith's pert and pretty Zerbinetta, dead on the note and very agile, with excellent diction given how the stratospheric tessitura can result in the words being obscure. Her tone is little shallow and fluttery but it is such a charming assumption, close to that of Kathleen Battle. The Commedia dell'arte troupe are very accomplished and witty, especially Roderick Williams' Harlequin.

Stephen Fry's suave, ironic Major Domo is perfectly inflected. A major bonus - apart from the fact that this is the only version available in English - is the inclusion of the Suite from "Le bourgeois gentilhomme" as a prelude to the Prologue; amongst the extant recordings, only Nagano's offers this music, as part of the original 1912 version.
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