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Abert "AMY" (Hong Kong)

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Pietà - Sacred works
Pietà - Sacred works
Offered by uniqueplace-uk
Price: £15.35

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars (-) A consummate artist in a new fach., 4 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Pietà - Sacred works (Audio CD)
This new Vivaldi album of Philippe Jaroussky witnesses a reunion with the ensemble founded by Jaroussky - Artaserse. Here he assumes the dual role of soloist and conductor.
The works chosen here are all composed for the Red Priest's favourite fach - the contralto.
Arguably, therefore, a high mezzo-sopranist like Jaroussky needs to adjust to the range. Admittedly Philippe does not sound as beguiling in this fach as does in a higher tessitura. The obvious difference between a true altist or contralto and Jaroussky in these delectable pieces are evident from the very first track of the motet Clara stella e scintillate, RV 625. The famous Rv 621 Stabat Mater Dolorosa is particularly glaring in the lighter tone colour of Jaroussky.
That said, there is absolutely no doubting about the artistry of this exceptional and mature artist. Nor is the technical demands any hurdle. It is just that in this lower tessitura, the exceptionally vibrant overtones of Jaroussky's mezzo countertenor is somewhat watered down in the virtuosic pieces like the two 'Alleluias'.
In the slow retrospective pieces like Stabat Mater and Rv 618 Salve Regina, Jaroussky's expressivity still pays dividends in spades.
The disc is generously filled with almost 75 minutes of solo singing, plus 3 odd minutes of a Concerto Rv 120.

Vinci: Artaserse
Vinci: Artaserse
Price: £15.73

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars (+) Slightly different from the DVD version., 20 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Vinci: Artaserse (Audio CD)
I watched the DVD of this production before acquiring this earlier recording, presumably made in the studio.
As there are already numerous reviews of both this CD version and the ever-popular DVD, I would perhaps just concentrate of the slight differences between the CD and DVD versions.
Aided by visual images, the titlerole of Artaserse sung by Philippe Jaroussky fared better on DVD than in this studio recording. The DVD live performance actually represents one of Jaroussky's finest operatic performances. The role of Artaserse's music is less enticing as some of the main characters, principally that of Arbace, sung by Franco Fagioli.
That brings us to Arbace himself. Fagioli is as good in the DVD as in the studio recording here. He has benefitted from having the 'fatest' share to sing, and of course, his outstanding talent brings full justice to the highly demanding role of Arbace.
The two ladies' roles actually are better in this studio recording, especially the role of Semira of Valer Barna-Sabadus, his ultra-fine phrasing coming off especially effectively in the studio recording. This singer is without a single doubt the best current singing sopranist, and by that, I am including David Hansen, Jorg Waschinski, et. al.
Max Cencic's Mandane sounds more feminine in the studio recording than in the DVD. The masculine core of his voice being less evident in the studio sound.
As the villain Megabise, Uriy Mynenko is slightly better off in the DVD version, aided by his great stage presence and fine acting, though the last aria isn't perfectly rendered, and the studio version is more secure.
Then comes to the biggest asset in this CD: Artabano. While Juan Sancho is dramatically very effective in the DVD, I have slight issues with his singing, especially in the high register (the role calls for very high singing). Daniel Behle is clearly a notch higher in this CD set, the voice with more shades, steadier emission and a firmer core, some thing essential for a villainy character (instead of a lyrical character) as Artabano. This tenor may have a future career in the junior heroic roles in the German repertoire.

Handel: Tamerlano
Handel: Tamerlano
Price: £29.99

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stands heads and shoulders above others, even if imperfect., 30 July 2014
This review is from: Handel: Tamerlano (Audio CD)
A review of this release of Naive is not easy.
On the one hand, we have before us a modern and 'complete' recording of Handel's masterpiece, whose musical pleasure ranks in the forefront of the great master's opera outputs, together with the likes of Giulio Cesare, Serse, Alcina, and probably even ahead of Rinaldo, Alessandro, Rhodelinda...
The most 'complete' version, it seems, is the 1970 recording conducted by John Moriarty with three mezzo-sopranos in the roles of Tamerlano, Adronico and Irene, and the wonderful 'Handel tenor' (yes, this is a cateogory by itself) Alexander Basil Young in a late career recording. That 'historical' recording was released in 2002 on CD by Parnassus Records and is still available.
Here is a modern HIP 2013 recording done by baroque experts. The overall quality is absolutely wonderful, but for a change, I would perhaps be a bit nasty and dwell on the imperfections first.
"Tamerlano" can rightly be re-titled 'Bajazet', as the plot centres on the defeated Turkish monarch and his daughter Asteria (soprano). Both Bajazet and Asteria require full lyrical tenor and soprano with a good range and colour to do justice to the roles' demands (which are considerable even compared with other Handel roles). The good news is that both Ainsley and Gauvin are renowned Handel experts. That said, In Act 1, the microphones of this recording are probably placed a bit too up front to the singers, and did a bit of disservice to both singers, who would most probably sound better in a live setting with more natural ambience. Luckily, the problem does not permeate into the later Acts. As it is, the opening aria of Asteria in Act 1 'S'ei non mi vuol amar' finds Gauvin sounding uptight in the high tessitura, though she is in great form in the major Act III number 'Cor di padre' and the duet 'Vivo in Te'.
John Mark Ainsley's undertaking of the challenging tenor role of Bajazet is on the whole successful, being more stylish than Placido Domingo both on CD and DVD. Ainsley delivered Bajazet's great aria 'Empio, perfarti guerra' in Act III with real aplomb, and generally speaking, the 'male' voices Bajazet and Leone are both well represented in this recording.
There are other issues such as the Act II arietta of Irene 'No, che sei tanto constante', in which the verses are 'spoken' and 'sung' alternatively, some thing endorsed by the conductor Minasi but disapproved by purists. In any event, Minasi is certainly not the first conductor of Handel to employ such 'style'.
Other than the cut short aria of Asteria in Act II ('So postessi cor di placare'), the recording is based on a full score of Handel's masterpiece.
In the title role, character countertenor Xavier Sabata is an effective Tamerlano, though this character is by no means the one having the 'meat' of the score, as do Bajazet and Asteria. Similarly, the singing of Adronico, a secondary castrato character in this work, is never bettered as sung here by Max Emanuel Cencic. There are a lot of drama in Cencic's singing, as in Act 2's aria 'Piu D'una Tigre Altero', and the ultra-lyrical duet 'Vivo in Te', a piece as beautiful as Handel's late 'Theodora' final act duet 'Streams of Pleasure ever flowing'.
A great recording nonetheless.

Arias for Caffarelli / Franco Fagioli
Arias for Caffarelli / Franco Fagioli
Price: £13.25

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The countertenor assoluto has arrived., 29 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In the accompanying booklet of this album, Caffarelli is being described as 'castrato assoluto'. In this highly amazing attempt by Franco Fagioli at interpreting the works sung by Caffarelli, the same 'assoluto' vocal traits are amply evident. Young Fagioli (born 1981) tackles in this album a diverse group of fiendishly difficult arias (total playing time well over 78 minutes!), and the chosen pieces are all warhorses (even if they are lyrical).
Fagioli's timbre does not sound feminine at all. His colour is rich, and in the lowest register, grainy, and his employs quite an amount of vibrato (even in baroque repertoire). In all these aspects, he is like a bel canto soprano assoluta, and in assuaging the more hard-core facets of his voice, he sings wonderfully fluid musical lines.
As other reviewers have already noted, Franco is prodigiously gifted. Like Max Emanuel Cencic, he is an 'interpretor' more than a 'singer'. Each single piece he tackles brims with individual character. Listeners just need to start listening to track No. 1, then moving to track No. 2 to savour the vast diverse expressions of this vocal wunderkind.
Fagioli's vocal attributes are really hard to number -
He has the full agility of a light lyrical coloratura soprano. He is fully capable of 'thinning out' his vocal folds to reach the highest register, some thing neither Philippe Jaroussky nor indeed any other male sopranist (including Arno Raurig, Randall Wong) is capable of. How a grown up man with a tenorial low register like Franco is capable of doing this is some thing totally beyond me, and Fagioli clearly is phenomenal in this aspect ALONE.
Of course, listeners would not fail to notice how rich a middle and low register Fagioli commands. Indeed, his range encompasses, to my ears at least, no less than 3 full octaves.
On the above observations alone, I really wonder if the term 'countertenor' is apt, but then, when it comes to such an 'assoluto' type of singer, this term may fit for it lack of specificity: this man, clearly, is a tenor-contralto-mezzo-soprano-cum-coloratura soprano.
On top of all these, I wonder if Fagioli, if listened to him live, is able to draw a significant spectrum of vocal dynamics. Judging from my watching his live performance as Arbace in Vinci's 'Artaserse' and this Caffarelli album, I tend to think that he commands a very significant dynamic range, too. The way he swings from fully dramatic chesty contralto/tenorial register to the light leggiero coloratura top register is evidenced by many selections in the present album. He is expert in swinging from powerfully masculine to lyrically mellifluous IN NO TIME. I'll bet if Caffarelli (and Farinelli) could be as adept at these pyro-techniques as Franco, who, mind you, owns tenorial register that these two castratos did not own.
Last but not the least, while I do not have much information about this relatively 'low-key' singer yet, I wonder which vocal schools he attended, for the way he uses his voice is one of the most outstanding, employing an absolutely even 'tubal' manner in changing registers, fully covering his voice when it goes up even to the highest notes.
Well, if we had Maria Callas in the 20th century, we have Franco Fagioli in the 21st.
Is he really that legendary?
The answer is a resounding 'YES'. And he is only 33 this year (how lucky we are!)

Luciano Pavarotti Edition 1 : The First Decade (Decca box set)
Luciano Pavarotti Edition 1 : The First Decade (Decca box set)
Price: £94.85

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Fabulous Tribute to the greatest tenor of the 20th century., 10 April 2014
When I saw this beautifully wrapped up box set at the retail store, I gasped and hesitated for a moment, for the sheer fact that I ALREADY owned 80 per cent of its contents. However, the allure of a young Pavarotti proved far greater - and the fact that all the discs are now re-mastered to play in better sound than their original releases.
When I opened up this big box, my jaw dropped lower and lower with the beautiful contents and wonderful line-up. This is a real 'tribute', not just an ordinary box set!!!
No libretto but a big pictorial of Luciano's early years, done in state of the art details and tremendously good coverages.
The 27-disc contains mainly operas with Pavarotti, Sutherland and Bonynge in the early years (up to 1974). Needless to say, Pavarotti's voice was glorious, a true force of nature, and his artistic honesty fully in tact during this stage of his illustrious career.
The big treat to lovers of opera and fans of Pavarotti like me, is that in this fabulous set, there is one small vinyl of Pavarotti's earliest London recordings. For a vinyl lover like myself, I almost wept for joy upon the sight of this big 'bonus'! For all opera lovers, we all know that Pav sounded truly magical on vinyl!
If you ask me to choose one of the BEST disc in this fabulous album, it would have to be Solti's Verdi Requiem, showcasing Pavarotti, Sutherland, Horne and Tavela, recorded in 1967. This ranks pari passu with the same year's live recording with Herbert von Karajan, Cossotto, Price and Ghiaurov, also featuring Pavarotti as tenor.
All-time great operatic recordings of course include Donizetti (Regiment, L'esir, Favorita), Bellini (Tenda, Puritani, Sonnambula), Verdi (Rigoletto, La Traviata); Puccini (Turandot, Boheme), featuring major sopranos in the persons of Joan Sutherland and Mirella Freni, with the great Caballe.
The concert recitals are similarly terrific, with one live one in which Pav sung works of Handel (!) and other baroque pieces, accompanied by Bonynge. These recital CDs contain extra tracks that were not in their original releases, and the extras add up to an entire CD's time, so it should actually be 28 CDs instead of 27.
Seems that Decca will release Editions 2 and 3. Despite that, this first and earliest Edition 1 must prevail over the later ones, given that Decca last year released a dual CD representing, very sadly, most of Pavarotti's later and far less successful attempts.
A MUST even if you already owned some of the contents.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 8, 2014 7:40 PM BST

Che puro ciel: The Rise of Classical Opera - Bejun Mehta
Che puro ciel: The Rise of Classical Opera - Bejun Mehta
Price: £10.66

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful operatic album in every way, with a slightly too ambitious track arrangement., 20 Mar. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The selection in Bejun Mehta’s new solo album with Harmonic Mundi contains works from Gluck (Orfeo and Ezio), Traetta (Antigona and Ifigenia in Tauride), Mozart (Ascanio in Alba and Mitridate), JC Bach (Artaserse) and Hasse (Il Trionfo del Clelia). The contents of this album reflect the operatic music of which W.A. Mozart would have known as a teenager.
First the less good news - the title cut — Gluck's Orfeo, proves the only less-than-compelling piece on the disc. I have listened and re-listened to this track many times to decipher the cause, for I have more confidence in Mehta’s singing as most other reviewers put it. Is it because that this particular part of the role doesn't match Mehta’s best tessitura? Why does his scale works here sounds less even than in the rest of the program? The fact that the solo vocal line constantly sings against a less than well-tuned accompaniment (recorders, I gather) provides not insubstantial obstacle to an accurate perception of Mehta’s singing: there is really no pitch problem with Mehta, just that the constant dissonance with that instrument provides great distraction to the ears of the listeners (listen to the opening introduction before Mehta sings: the dissonance and pitch problem of the recorder is already there). These have a more devastating effect on the perception of the entire album than the producer might have realised.
The better news are that the music contains real treasures like the dialogue between Orestes and a chorus of Furies in Traetta's 1763 Ifigenia en Tauride, with Mehta as Oreste. The rarely heard Traetta, who spent part of his career in musically remote St. Petersburg, are really the biggest find here. Here as elsewhere in this album, Mehta’s variety of attack, musical phrasing and precision in dynamics compel admiration. Mehta is dramatically effective and has a beautiful limpid tone in the slower and warmer arias. He also uses the fiorature in the music to good dramatic and musical ends, unlike some of the other up-coming star counter-tenors who employs such mainly for technical shocase.
The rest of the program is also intelligently assembled. Christoph Willibald Gluck, otherwise considered the founder of the Classical style in opera, Johann Adolf Hasse, Johann Christian Bach, are known mostly to operatic specialists. Compared to the flamboyant arias of the late Baroque, the pieces here are less spectacular but more dramatically satisfying. The young Mozart is represented by his early masterpiece Mitridate, rè di Ponto (1770), and the neglected Ascanio in Alba of the following year.
René Jacobs and the Akademie für alte Musik Berlin’s use a fortepiano in one of the Mozart recitatives, which would have been unlikely in 1771, sounds a bit odd, but the performers get the excitement of the music.
Stylistically, the program includes accompanied recitatives, which became a key tool for Johann Christian Bach and Mozart in framing arias. This album contains a bravura da capo aria from the younger Bach's 1760 Artaserse, which offers interesting comparison with Leonardo Vinci’s same aria in his earlier (baroque) Artaserse, which may be heard in the recent release under the baton of Diego Fasolis. Mozart himself is represented by the Act III aria of Farnace in Mitridate, Re di Ponto (1770), one of Mehta's great triumphs in Salzburg and Vienna, and the rarely recorded but fine "Cara, lontano ancora," from the pastorale Ascanio in Alba.
Still five stars, mostly for Bejun Mehta’s singing and the wonderfully assembled programme (if not in the cleverest track order).

Carmina Burana: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra [Blu-ray] [2013]
Carmina Burana: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra [Blu-ray] [2013]
Dvd ~ Sally Matthews
Price: £29.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very sorry - this was a non-starter as a CD, and should not appear AGAIN in any other format., 14 Mar. 2014
Big names abound in this performance! Do you believe it, the BPO and Sir Simon, then Christian Gerhaher and Lawrence Brownlee with Sally Matthews (who is relatively 'less' well known among all others).
But can you believe it? This performance appeared under EMI around 10 years ago as CD and was a fiasco for utterly unacceptable bad sound.
Why on earth can it 'resuscitate' in another format (blu-ray) is totally beyond me.
Yes - apart from big names, there's really little to recommend.

Rokoko - Hasse Opera Arias
Rokoko - Hasse Opera Arias
Price: £13.25

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant selection of top-notch works performed with equal brilliance., 28 Feb. 2014
Few musicians perform equally well live and in studio. Max Emanuel Cencic is an exception for he does not seem to differentiate between the theatre and the recording studio: in this album, his singing throughout is as animated and heartfelt as if given live. The selections brim with excitement from beginning to end, the pensive arias approached as fervidly as the more obviously impressive coloratura numbers, some thing that is not easily achieved in an album of this genre.
The opening aria is from Hasse's 1734 Dresden oratorio Il cantico de' tre fanciulli, a setting of the Biblical story of the fiery furnace. Track 1 `Notte amica, oblio de' mali' is an aria of Misaele (Meshach). In the oratorio, the rapt religious fervor of this aria had a significant impact on the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar, and Cencic's fervent rendition of the piece makes a similar impact on his listeners. On the other hand, in pieces like `Solca il mar e nel periglio' from Tigrane, Cencic performs the tumultuous disquiet of the sea in immaculately-phrased coloratura, the piquant edge on the voice clutching the music from the first note and not letting go until every passion has been wrung from the text.
Technically, Cencic's breath control is exceptional. Interpretation wise, Cencic towers over most interpreters of this repertory in his uncanny ability to create even in performances of arias removed from their contexts' microcosms of palpable sensitivity. His treatment of da capo parts of the arias is nothing less than spectacularly contrasting, and his cadenzas are stylishly done. More importantly, he treats ornamentation with absolute good taste, showing up the sensitivity as well as evocative aspects that best suit the texts in their rightful contexts, deploying deftly-maneuvered trills where required. Of the current crop of top counter-tenors, Cencic demonstrates a wide range of vocal expressiveness that reaches out to flamboyant showmanship as well as lyrical tenderness. Never lacking in musical imagination, the rhythmic thrusts are so well carried throughout the different pieces as to never allowing a single instance of flagging.
Cencic's sheer delight of singing overflows this album as the listeners move from track to track, moving his listeners to rapt attentiveness from beginning to end; no small feat for a solo vocal album of this nature.
For opera listeners reared on the likes of Flagstad, Nilsson, Callas and Sutherland, the countertenor voice may always be an acquired taste. Even so, Max Emanuel Cencic is a singer whom these great artists of the past would undoubtedly recognize as a peer.
Singing apart, as a sort of interlude to Cencic's brilliant vocal recital, with mandolin player Theodoros Kitsos, Armonia Atenea and Maestro Petrou give a chic account of Hasse's Mandolin Concerto in G major, a work that owes as much to the influence of Händel's Organ Concerti as to Vivaldi's music for mandolin.

Vinci: Artaserse (DVD) [2014] [NTSC]
Vinci: Artaserse (DVD) [2014] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Philippe Jaroussky
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £28.64

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific in every sense - not just another HIP production., 28 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Nowadays HIP baroque operas take on new height after new height.
This French production featuring in title role French counter-tenor Philippe Jaroussky, with Max Emanuel Cencic in 'skirt role' as Artaserse's sister, new CT stars Valer Barna-Sabadus and Franco Fagioli are a 'must see' item, having previously been issued in CD format to great acclaim.
I will focus on the visual aspect of this performance since this is a DVD release.
The sets and costumes are fabulous to begin with, they are a mixture of rococo and baroque, and the protagonists take on the style well.
The most eye-catching performances come from the pair of Fagioli's Arbace and Cencic's Mandane.
The other skirt role Semira is undertaken by soprano CT Barna-Sabadus, another young up-coming star. He, however, is slightly taller and hence not as 'faminine' in appearance as Cencic.
So actually this Artaserse production has 'two sets' of CT stars - the reigning Jaroussky/Cencic pair and the up-coming Fagioli/Barna-Sabadus pair. Each pair as as good as the other, so this is first rate singing contest non-stop, but the pair of Arbace/Mandane really has more drama, so it is more eye/ear catching.
The lone tenor did a passable but not illustrious job as Arbace's father, the murderer of Artaserse's father (Serse).
The Concerto Köln, one of the longer-serving period bands, benefited from Diego Fasolis' almost dance-like approach to conducting (partly) from the harpsichord.

Mozart: Concert Arias
Mozart: Concert Arias
Offered by positivenoise
Price: £6.61

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The audience recovers a great Mozart tenor in Rolando Villazon., 25 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Mozart: Concert Arias (Audio CD)
Solo albums of Mozart’s concert arias for tenor aren’t widely recorded as sopranos’.
Some notable ‘Mozart tenors’ did not met with an enviable plight since the legendary Fritz Wunderlich’s all too early demise at the age of 35 in 1966: in 2007 the American Mozart tenor par excellence Jerry Hadley died at the age of 55. Three years later Scottish born Austrian tenor John Dickie died aged barely 57. They did not record any complete album of Mozart concert arias, nor do eminent Mozart interpretors Francisco Araiza and Michael Schade. Indeed, not too many tenors chose to devote his major career to the works of Mozart after the days of Anton Dermota and Peter Schreier. Hence it is a real joy when Villazon himself claimed that the discovered a entirely new operatic world in Mozart.
Rolando’s new album on Mozart is about the most exciting vocal solo album since 2010, for the star tenor virtually found his ‘real stuff’ in this composer’s work. The timbre is as if tailor-made for these arias. Actually audience already got an early glimpse of this tenor’s glory in this composer’s operas when the live performances of ‘Don Giovanni’ and ‘Cosi fan tutte’ were released in the past two years.
Mozart’s Concert Arias are not really ‘popular’ works on discography as such, but they will soon become such, after Rolando’s terrific recording came out.
Villazon’s fully lyrical and flexible tenor voice finds such great affinity with Mozart’s musical lines that it is astounding – Mozart must have written the works for HIM! Both the recitatives and the arias are stylistically rendered, and even if one would wish for an even more ‘Rococo’ sort of refinement of delivery, there is little to fault really for Rolando shapes the phrases so elegantly that one used to his former ‘style’ would be utterly surprised.
Villazon’s Mozart has that quintessential element of ‘drama’. He is so emotionally alert and sensitive to every word, every phrase, every note, that there is simply no one single bland note, and blandness is, of course, the greatest deadly sin in Mozart. Nor does Villazon over-dramatizes. The drama is always well contained within the Viennese classical style, in the crystal-clear enunciations so the lyrics come out even in greater conviction. This is a jaw-dropping feat in Mozart interpretation that leaves one no choice but to admit that Villazon is born to sing Mozart! He has the timbre, the style, the temperament, the musicality…Really, nothing could be better.
Antonio Pappano’s LSO plays with great musicality and Mozartian style as well, and offers a perfect backdrop to Rolando’s great singing.
The only, and actually a minor, quibble is that in the final release of this wonderful recording, instead of the originally scheduled 7 tracks there are 12, which means that some scenes are being split up. The splits are not always a happy one, as for instance in tracks 5 and 6, on which Mozart marked a clear ‘attacca’ for the entry of the aria after the recitative.
Despite this minor technical flaw, this album is the best solo vocal album to come out in a decade.
Bravo, bravo, Rolando!

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