Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn more Shop now Shop now
Profile for Iain C. Davidson > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Iain C. Davidson
Top Reviewer Ranking: 3,765
Helpful Votes: 729

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Iain C. Davidson "iain1825" (Scotland)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-19
pixel
Händel: Alessandro
Händel: Alessandro
Price: £36.73

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A small gem, 29 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Händel: Alessandro (Audio CD)
There are two new recordings just out of this unusual Handel opera written at the start of his 'Rival Queens' period when the famous soprano Faustina Bordoni came to join his company and annoy the hell out of resident prima donna Francesca Cuzzoni! It is because I've been listening to excerpts of these new recordings (trying to decide whether to buy) that I've been re-listening to my existing recording of the piece - the original (now quite old) conducted by Kuijken. 'Alessandro' is unusual in that drama plays second fiddle to the vocal talents of the original singers and it's fascinating to see how Handel divides arias exactly down the middle for the two rival sopranos, even giving the same number of lines to each in the one duet (the only one they were ever to sing together). Even the finale is a curious threesome with the lead castrato singing the title role!

I have to say that, despite its age, I still love this recording. The playing of La Petite Bande is still gloriously fresh, fun and lively. I accept that countertenor Rene Jacobs is an acquired taste, and I do not always love him, but he is fantastic in this recording. The swooping and hooting is there but there's a tremendous elegance and flair that over-rides all that and, frankly, much as I admire newer rivals Lawrence Zazzo and Max Cencic, I think that Jacobs knocks spots off them here. Sophie Boulin is a little recorded French soprano who sings Rossane and she is simply lovely with a sweet, agile voice. There is real laughter in her coloratura during such fun numbers as 'Lusinghe piu care' Isabelle Poulenard is her rival Lisaura, sharper in tone - sometimes shrill - but still very good. Second countertenor Jean Nirouet is a little weedy as Indian king Tassile but I prefer the speed of his lovely aria 'Sempre fido' in this recording to either of the new ones. The rest of the cast are ok (including the unusually light bass Stephen Varcoe) but 'Alessandro' is really all about the main three roles.

I'm still not sure if I'll be investing in a second recording of 'Alessandro'. So far, I've not heard much to rival the original. My recommendation would be this one.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 25, 2014 9:20 AM BST


Flavius Bertaridus
Flavius Bertaridus
Price: £21.98

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True hidden gem, 17 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Flavius Bertaridus (Audio CD)
There are very few Telemann operas on disc, so this recording of 'Flavius Bertaridus' would be welcome regardless of its quality but, happily, this is a very fine recording indeed. Taken from live performances, the Academia Montis Regalis plays superbly well under the baton of Alessandro de Marchi (who also brought us recently a very good recording of Pergolesi's 'L'Olimpiade') and highlights the many pleasures of this score. There are many splendid arias in this piece and the vocal cast are generally excellent. Maite Beaumont shows off her rich yet light toned mezzo soprano in the title role (there are a couple of wonderful virtuoso arias with trumpets and drums for her character) and Ann-Beth Solvang (as Flavius' sister Flavia) has a lovely nightingale aria at the start of Act 2. It took me a while to warm to Nina Bernsteiner as Rodelinda but she has a couple of superb dramatic pieces towards the end of Act 2 that I very much enjoyed. The only voice I wasn't too fond of was that of the tenor Jurgen Sacher.

The story is similar to Handel's 'Rodelinda' but rather sillier in places (disguises, mistaken identities etc) but great fun and really worth getting. Here's hoping that de Marchi and DHM continue to release recordings of these more obscure baroque works - its great to hear some alternatives to Handel and Vivaldi.


Vivaldi - Arie Ritrovate
Vivaldi - Arie Ritrovate
Price: £13.32

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Buy, 5 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have liked Sonia Prina for some time now but this disc of Vivaldi rarities surely shows her at her very best. There are so many good things on here but my personal favourite is an aria from Scanderbeg (later re-used in Il Verita in Cimento) 'Con palme ed allori' which is wonderfully exciting with horn accompaniment. The orchestra play brilliantly here and Prina's coloratura dazzling and her firm, meaty mezzo voice is just sumptuous. Highly recommended.


The Vault: (A Wexford Case)
The Vault: (A Wexford Case)
by Ruth Rendell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but still good, 23 Jun. 2012
Ruth Rendell's later books, especially the Wexford series, are reminding me of Agatha Christie's late works - flawed, increasingly full of inconsistencies but still enjoyable. Actually, I think The Vault is the best Wexford novel for some time. Wexford had to retire eventually and I'm glad that he has at last. I had not read the link novel 'A Sight For Sore Eyes' before reading this book so I did not have the benefit of any background knowledge. I think that is probably a good thing as much of what unfolded in 'The Vault' was, therefore, new to me and made the story more exciting. I loved the central premise of the bodies sealed up in the coal hole for all those years and the mystery of discovering who they all were. When I eventually made the link with the earlier novel (I had recognised some of the names) I was impressed with the idea of going back to an earlier work and looking at it from a different angle. Personally, I think Rendell has been very clever and innovative here.

For me, the story runs out of steam a bit as it goes on and (as is often the case) I found myself soon bored with the Wexford family subplot. I like Wexford's wife but I have never cared for his daughters much and I found myself wishing that Rendell had truly taken a brave leap and killed off the tiresome Sylvia! As others have said, inconsistencies are legion and there are just far too many co-incidences to believe in. Perhaps the most irritating is Wexford's all too easy discovery of the car but there are many others. On the whole though, the story was strong enough that (for me at least) these did not detract too much from my enjoyment of the book. I think this one is worth a read, its one of the strongest of her later works.


Porpora Arias
Porpora Arias
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £13.92

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something different, 9 April 2012
This review is from: Porpora Arias (Audio CD)
There's not a lot of Porpora out there so kudos to Karina Gauvin and Alan Curtis for this treasurable disc of opera arias from one of Handel's main rivals! Gauvin is in particularly luscious voice here and Curtis' band (who can be somewhat variable) are in very good form too. Personally I think the highlight of the whole disc is the aria 'Misera sventurata' from 'Arianna' which is a simply gorgeous piece, delicately played (some adorable harpsichord playing especially) and richly sung. The overture from this opera is also excellent, the third movement being particularly good fun. This CD has become a regular on my player and 'Misera sventurata' in my top 25 iPod tunes. Highly recommended to lovers of the baroque!


Les Danaides
Les Danaides
Price: £27.86

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nasty tale - great music!, 8 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Les Danaides (Audio CD)
'Les Danaides' is a particularly unpleasant tale dealing with the murder of 49 bridegrooms by their 49 brides (and cousins) on their wedding night at the command of the brides' father having sworn a false oath of peace. The only bride to disobey her father (Hypermnestra) escapes with her spared husband at the end of the piece whilst her father and sisters suffer the eternal torments of hell for their dishonest and murderous deeds. According to the booklet, this opera was presented to the Parisian first night audience as the latest offering from Gluck. They were delighted with it and only found out afterwards that it was in fact composed by his student, the young Antonio Salieri!

As you might expect then, the opera sounds very Gluckian but there are important hints at what was to come from Salieri himself in his later career and also from Mozart. There is an excellent overture and some very fine choruses and the final scene, set in hell, is great fun with the daughters (Danaides) screaming in terror whilst the demons and furies taunt them for their wickedness - there are definite hints in the music here towards the finale of 'Don Giovanni'. Individual arias are quite short and not as interesting (on the whole) as the choruses and set pieces. The majority are given to Hypermnestra who appears in each of the five acts and is sung very well indeed by Sophie Marin-Degor. The baritone Hans Christoph Begemann is effective in the recitatives as the villainous king Danaus. Christoph Genz is a little weedy in the tenor role of Lyncee (although it is fair to say that the role itself is quite weedy). The orchestra play brilliantly. The only slight disappointment is that, whilst the female chorus sings very beautifully it would have nice if they were more dramatic. When these bloodthirsty ladies sing their lusty Maenad chorus in act 3, they could just as easily be the sweet bridesmaids at Lohengrin's wedding!

On the whole though, I very much enjoyed this out of the way romp into a largely unexplored part of the French repertoire and I would recommend it.


Rameau - Platée / Marc Minkowski, Laurent Pelly, Opéra de Paris [DVD]
Rameau - Platée / Marc Minkowski, Laurent Pelly, Opéra de Paris [DVD]
Dvd ~ Paul Agnew

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such fun!, 5 Feb. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was the first time I had seen or heard Rameau's 'Platee' although it had been on my wish list for some time! I found it absolutely brilliant and great fun. Marc Minkowski's conducts the score with such lightness and verve and both he and the orchestra seem to be enjoying themselves. The soloists are all very satisfactory and in two cases, rather more so. Paul Agnew is exquisite in the title role, not just vocally but he acts the part of the marsh nymph so well. It must be a tricky tightrope to walk because to modern sensibilities, the ugly but good hearted frog queen is treated rather abominably by the Gods and their hangers-on and I did find myself feeling quite sorry for 'her' at the end. However, Agnew does manage to balance this by also bringing out the extreme vanity of the character as well as 'her' more endearing qualities. The other star is Mireille Delunsch as La Folie who sings astonishingly well (deservedly bringing the house down after her fiendishly difficult aria in Act 2) and also puts in a brilliant acting performance as a truly unhinged demi-goddess in a dress made of music scores and a wig with a mind of its own!

The production is simple but effective. In each act the stage is increasingly taken over by the encroaching swamp. Costumes are modern but fun, mainly in shades of green as the opera progresses. The choreography is something of a mixed bag in my opinion, ranging from confusingly banal (the prologue and some of the pre-wedding dances) to the sublime (the frogs, Folie's followers and the three 'graces'). Overall I enjoyed this enormously and would not hesitate to recommend it.


Lully: Persee [DVD] [2005]
Lully: Persee [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ Cyril Auvity

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Entertaining, 4 Dec. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Lully: Persee [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
I have always found French baroque more difficult to 'get into' than its Italian counterpart and I think its because it is more difficult to dip in to - the arias do not break up into individual set pieces in the same way. The dances and choruses are invariably wonderful but I usually find the sung recitatives a little difficult. The point of this pre-amble is to explain why it took a second viewing of this superb 'Persee' to really appreciate how good it is. The production, from the Elgin Theatre, Toronto, is on the face of it, very traditional. The costumes are sumptuous, the sets are mainly painted flats and the gods are flown in from the heights on their 'deus ex-machina' clouds! The performers pose and preen and much use is made of extravagant hand gestures. Behind all this however is a delicious wit. This is carefully managed though - the 'serious' situations remain serious - but when given full rein, it is delightful. A fine example of this is the 'monster' who appears in Act 4!

The singers, in general, are excellent. Cyril Auvity is sweet both vocally and in demeanor, in the title role. I liked the strong mezzo soprano of Stephanie Novacek as Cassiope and Marie Lenormand is a convincing Andromede (not the expected wilting violet). Probably the most impressive overall contribution (in my opinion) is from Monica Wicher as Merope, who sings beautifully and is entirely convincing in this tricky part of the rejected maiden aunt who flirts briefly with being a villainess but is ultimately too good and sympathetic to pull it off. I have to admit though that my favourite scene in the whole thing is Act 3 which is dominated by Medusa and Mercure. The whole act is astonishingly camp and Oliver Laquerre is truly wonderful as the snake-haired monster who laments her lost beauty but who also rather enjoys turning people to stone! Colin Ainsworth flits about girlishly as Mercure and the whole thing is great fun.

So, I would highly recommend this. The music is glorious, the production is sumptuous - I'm just glad I waited till I had watched it a second time before posting this review.


Vivaldi: Farnace
Vivaldi: Farnace
Price: £14.29

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So glad I bought this, 5 Oct. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Vivaldi: Farnace (Audio CD)
Well, I hesitated for quite a while before buying this set as I already own the Alia Vox (recently re-issued by Naive) set of this opera and really had to convince myself that I needed two recordings of this late Vivaldi opera. I was perfectly happy with my old recording (although I accept that there are all sorts of things wrong with it stylistically) and it is a fine piece. I have to say though that this new recording by Diego Fasolis is much, much better! I just bursts with energy and is conducted with such flair. I Barrochisti are glorious with brass - there are a couple of arias for Aquilio and Tamiri that I just can't stop listening to!

The cast are uniformly excellent. I doubt if there is a countertenor voice out there at the moment that I enjoy as much as Max Cencic (although Franco Fagioli comes very close) and he sings the title role very well indeed. His unfortunate wife Tamiri is sung by my new favourite mezzo soprano, Ruxandra Donose - this lady must record more baroque music; her voice is glorious! Belligerent queen Berenice is also sung with tremendous flair by the ever more impressive Mary Ellen Nesi. Alan Curtis regulars Ann Hallenberg and Karina Gauvin are as distinguished as always in their roles and there are a couple of really good tenors in Daniel Behle and Emiliano Gonzalez Toro.

The whole thing is just splendid and I don't really care if its a little over the top - its just tremendously good fun! Highly recommended.


Handel: Berenice
Handel: Berenice

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good recording of obscure Handel opera, 5 Oct. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Handel: Berenice (Audio CD)
It is unlikely that 'Berenice' would appear among many Handel fans 'top 10'. It is a fairly ordinary (for Handel) piece that did not do well when it first appeared and then languished for centuries, even well into the Handel revival. This second recording of the the opera is another from Handelian hero Alan Curtis who continues to enrich the discography with these well cast and well produced sets. He makes a persuasive case for 'Berenice' and the cast here is a particularly fine one. Soprano Klara Ek is new to me but sings very well and with considerable dramatic variety as the fortunes of the queen change throughout the course of the opera. Romina Basso and Mary Ellen Nesi are singers with whom I grow more and more impressed the more I hear of them and I was also very impressed with (new to me) Ingela Bohlin, very sweet of tone as the soprano hero Alessandro. I am also pleased to add Franco Fagioli to my list of hugely impressive young countertenors starting to make a name for themselves (listen to his virtuoso 'Su Megera' amongst others).

Curtis gives the opera in full and his Complesso Barroco sound fuller and richer than in some previous recordings. This is well worth a listen.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-19