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Abert "AMY" (Hong Kong)

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Messa Di Gloria (Accardo)
Messa Di Gloria (Accardo)
Offered by Music-Finder
Price: £34.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Minus - For Spagnoli and Antonacci, with Accardo on a rare podium., 22 Jan. 2013
This is a live recording of Rossini's 'Messa di Gloria' in 1992. The work has very few recordings. I must say that I did not succeed in purchasing this CD, but only managed to view its entirety as recorded on Youtube (as video).
Accardo seldom conducts, and he is reasonably good in Rossini's rarely performed piece. The tempi are a bit slow, but in the main, he brings out the drama very well, especially in the 'Gloria in excelsis'.
The soloists (with solo parts to sing) are tenors Robert Gambill and Francisco Araiza, soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci and bass baritone Pietro Spagnoli.
Needless to say, in 1992, Ms. Antonacci was barely 30 years old, and Spagnoli in his early 30's. I had a hard time recognising Mr. Spagnoli in the video, but he sang really well in this live performance. His last bass aria Quoniam tu solis sanctum really throws clear light on the great operatic career ahead of him!
A bit on the green side is the young Anna Caterina Antonacci, but she too sings impeccably, if her Laudamus Te is not as suave as Sumi Jo for Marriner (also recorded in 1992, but in Studio).
So you'd notice that in 1992 there were two Rossini 'Messa di Gloria' recordings - this live one conducted by Accardo, and studio one by Neville Marriner.
While the bass part and the soprano part are ideally sung in this Accardo's live performance, the two tenors are less than ideal, alas.
Francisco Araiza also sung in Marriner's studio recording. Here, however, he sung the 'opposite' tenor parts than in that studio recording, and the result is quite disastrous, as his solo aria Gratias witnessed what singing heavy repertoire of Wagner did to his voice, especially in Rossini. The high notes at the end of his Gratias agimus tibi cracked one after the other, and as this is a live performance, there is simply no escape. As indeed, in the swapped tenor part for Marriner, there are also signs of vocal wear in the Qui tollis peccata, though in a studio recording, one can always re-do and re-make by different takes.
As the other tenor (singing the solo Qui tollis peccata), Robert Gambill really fared no better than Francisco Araiza. The battling with the high notes are heroic, but not entirely successful. Gambill's problem, however, is not a worn out voice, but lack of vocal range.
Indeed, Rossini's 'Messa di Gloria' is real challenge for Rossini tenors. It is not a surprise that Juan Diego Florez had not, to-date, sung its tenor parts in entirety.

Offenbach: Les Contes d'Hoffmann (Domingo/Malfitano/Murray/Van Dam/VPO/Levine, 1981)
Offenbach: Les Contes d'Hoffmann (Domingo/Malfitano/Murray/Van Dam/VPO/Levine, 1981)
Price: £32.36

4.0 out of 5 stars Pricy without the libretto in a hybrid version., 7 Jan. 2013
This 1981 reprisal of the Ponnelle-Levine collaboration of Hoffmann has certain inclusions of Oeser's 'new' materials (aftern 1978), but retains the old version by and large. For instance, the Giulietta Act is very different from the Michael Kaye version of the early 1990's (Tate/Nagano). The Nikclausse is the same person as the Muse, and the inclusion of the 'Glasses trio', the Muse/Giulietta 'Barcarolle', for instance. James Levine was chiefly responsible for the drawing up of this hybrid "Levine Version", and he leaves out quite a number of melodramas.
It depends on whether you want a taut and fast "Hoffmann", or a more lyrical and leisurely paced melodrama. I am for the latter. However, if you wish for the MET-type 'big' hits, with lots of action and dramatic thrusts (as contrasted with more refined nuances), this version is for you.
Levine and his chief operatic buddy Domingo dominate this production's style and dramatic thrust. Domingo was in fine voice in this live recording, and even interpolates (with the help of Levine, of course) a couple of high notes with more success than elsewhere. His unattractive larynx constriction in tonal shading is nearly non-existent here. That said, his overly burly characterisation may be a bit too beefy for some, and his French is quite a mouthful, compared to Gedda and Alagna and even Araiza, who all have more elegant diction than Domingo.
The ladies, however, are the main attractions of this performance. The young Ann Murray is ear-catching as Muse/Nicklausse giving a very good characterisation to the dual-role, almost as good as von Otter for Jeffrey Tate's illustrious (new) version, and the far too little recorded Catherine Malfitano the main reason for the acquiring of this recording (she has an eminent 'La Traviata' at Chicago of 1985, but not available on Amazon). The voice is good, if not the most mellifluous or colorful, but she never over-does, nor under-plays all the different roles she sings. This is a memorable portrayal of all the Hoffmann lovers; definitely more than just capable.
The sound quality is a bit uneven, and at this price, it may require certain amount of fanaticism for justifying this expensive purchase without libretto to follow, but the beautiful music Offenbach offered is well worth it.

Lieder für Liebende
Lieder für Liebende

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful collection of songs and lieder., 7 Dec. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Lieder für Liebende (Audio CD)
This 2006 compilation by Sony is quite a treat, encompassing singers from the mid-20th century right into the last quarter.
Carlo Bergonzi sings a number of Italian songs, while the others are mainly German lieders and some French songs.
It is a wonderful album for introducing listeners to lieder and other song genres. While the singers encompass operatic big names (like Kiri Te Kanawa, Carlo Bergonzi, Barbara Bonney, Thomas Hampson, et al), some singers are pre-dominantly lieder experts, like Thomas Quasthoff, Christian Gerhaher, and Rao Lan. The latter, in particular, has not been widely recorded apart from a few lieder albums with Artes Nova.
All in all, a very interesting and captivating collection of not just the songs, but also the singers.

Liederabend: José Carreras
Liederabend: José Carreras
Price: £11.73

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good concert recital documentary., 7 Dec. 2012
Jose Carreras, unlike either Placido Domingo or Luciano Pavarotti, has a much smaller discography, even less recital albums.
This August 1981 document is taken at a time when Carreras's still in his vocal prime.
The sound of this live recording is acceptably clear, and even though Carreras could not be considered owning the richest of tenor voice, is well captured in spacious sound.
The singer is more restrained in the outer numbers in this recital of 26 songs.
The plaintive tones of the outer numbers of the songs are vividly brought out by Carreras's uniquely nostalgic-proned timbre and as the recital progresses,
Carreras never flags emotionally throughout - the sheer stretch of such sustenance is by itself amazing, and he actually mounts his emotional committment and performance energy song following song, a trait that is his trademark on the performance stage.
The choice of programme is also exquisite. Predominantly Latin, some Gallic elements like Massenet czme first, followed by Faure, than in four favourite Italian Tosti songs that really ignited the 'fire' of the recital, with the Non t'amo piu and Vorrei morire raising the temperature of the entire concert atmosphere.
Edoardo Mueller proves to be a very good pianistic partner in this programme of French, Spanish and Italian songs. The Mompou songs are like tiny shimmering jewels in the hands of Mueller and Carreras. Jo et pressentia com la mar is a short 'heavenly' piece that brought the house down.
Being Spanish, the official programme rounds off with Turina and Falla (6 Siete Canciones Populares Espanolas. The 'show pieces' are without doubt the six canciones of Falla, in which Carreras is absolutely in element.
In the encore pieces, Lara's famous Granada is of course included. Tosti's popular pieces are also there: A vuchella, L'alba separa dalla luce l'ombra. The programme rounded off with an operatic aria, Puccini's Nessun dorma.
A highly captivating vocal recital that no one can afford to miss!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 10, 2013 6:30 AM BST

Philips 50
Philips 50
Price: £84.26

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful sound, great choices!, 23 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Philips 50 (Audio CD)
Unlike the other reviewer, my friends and I consider this 50 CD release both accoustically satisfying, and artistically sound in its selection.
Some items are rarities that you seldom find on the market these days, but for conoisseurs, their inclusion simply demonstrate that the producer has given every circumspection in picking the collection. Just to name a few gems that are being blatantly overlooked but are artistically unsurpassed -
1. The Mozart Requiem conducted by Peter Schreier, recorded in 1983 at Dresden. The soloists are the extreme top choices - alto Trudielise Schmidt, bass Theo Adam, soprano Margaret Price and tenor Francisco Araiza. This is the picked recording of this work by many critics, including the Gramophone Magazine.
2. Rossini's 'Il Barbiere di Sivigli', conducted by Sir Neville Marriner, with Sir Thomas Allen, Agnes Baltsa, Francisco Araiza, Robert Lloyd. While Thomas Allen and Baltsa both shine as the main protagonists, Francisco Araiza's heaviest role in the work as the Count Almaviva is the creme de la creme of this wonderful recording.
3. The other Rossini masterpiece, the 'Stabat Mater' conducted by Symyon Bychkov may seem a tad obscure, but if you are a real Rossini fan you will immediate tell that this recording boosts of the best of the best tenor part, again sung by Francisco Araiza, with the most amazing 'Cuius Animam' in the entire classical recording history. The then (1989) young Cecilia Bartoli is also a tour de force of this wonderful rendition.
4. Unlike the other reviewer, I think the Clara Haskil Mozart piano concertos are really the best pick on ANY label, and can only be bettered if conducted by Ferenc Fricsay. That Haskil is the ultimate Mozartian is undisputed.
5. The Schubert lieders of the great Dutch soprano Elly Ameling.
6. Colin Davis Berlioz 'Symphonie Fantastique'.

Other great choices are of course Alfred Brendel's Liszt and Beethoven concerti, Bernard Haitink, Edo de Waart, Colin Davis, Antal Dorati's Tchaikovsky, Sir Elliott Gardner's Verdi Requiem, Valery Gergiev, Arthur Grumiaux's great outputs, but imhv, the greatest value lies in the neglected jewels listed above.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 24, 2013 9:26 AM GMT

La Cenerentola: Teatro Alla Scala (Abbado) [DVD] [2005]
La Cenerentola: Teatro Alla Scala (Abbado) [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ Frederica von Stade
Price: £13.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Certainly 'the yardstick', but should be re-issued in 16:9 on blu-ray., 22 Nov. 2012
I simply cannot recommend this production more - it is a classic; it is the bench-mark; yet it is already more than 30 years old, and not getting the deserved attention by DG.
In its 111 anniversary, what DG should have done is to re-issue the VHS version in 16:9 on blu-ray. This 4:3 DVD version of the original VHS has severe side-cuts that blemishes the visual impact not insignificantly.
I also disagree with DG's DVD lining and booklet - the focus, it seems, is SOLELY on Frederica von Stade, which is unjustified, since the cast is unanimously terrific, if not native English-speakers. Such unjustified Anglo-phile approach belittles the English-speaking race as a whole.
Solely from the performance level, von Stade is visually unsurpassed, for sure, but vocally, I would say that the other great American mezzo-soprano Joyce Didonato has surpassed von Stade in this role, as well as the Italian diva Cecilia Bartoli. However, both Didonato and Bartoli are not blessed with such a wonderful Ponnelle filmed extravaganza!
If you ask for the truly outstanding members of this wonderful cast, I would say that Don Magnificio and Prince Ramiro are the two unsurpassed members.
Paolo Montarsolo's Don Magnificio is, apart from the usual buffo meanness and selfishness that are often aligned for this role, a true flesh and blood character. He is lazy, he is mean, he is shallow, he is vainglory, he is...but he ALSO strikes as such a commonplace middle-class father of two good-for-nothing spoilt girls!
There are numerous Prince Ramiros both past and present that filled the market - from the good-old days to the recent bel canto prince Juan Diego Florez to the MET visual fiasco Lawrence Brownlee. However, none, absolutely none, has the vocal calibre, the physical charisma, the charming princely regal demeanour, of Francisco Araiza in this film.
Araiza was about 30 years old when this was filmed. An amazingly virile and florid Rossinian tenor (and of course in MANY other genres of vocal repertoire, too) at that time before he switched to other notable repertoires as well, his performance here really is an operatic masterclass for any tenor attempting this role.
Compared to him, Florez's timbre is at best described as 'tenorino'. And Florez does not own the superb acting capabilities of Araiza. While Ramiro is not as significant a role as compared to Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere, the two major scenes of Prince Ramiro are both incredibly dramatically effective and vocally incomparable.
This, in fact, is Araiza's fourth Ponnelle film in a row between the three years from 1977 to 1980.
This alone tells a lot about this scandalously underrated artist.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 5, 2014 10:26 PM GMT

Schubert: Die Schone Mullerin
Schubert: Die Schone Mullerin
Offered by marvelio-uk
Price: £11.87

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unjustly ignored exemplary rendition., 31 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
SCHUBERT's Die Schone Mullerin, D795 sung by Francisco Araiza (tenor) with Irwin Gage (piano), was recorded in 1984 on both LP and CD.
As a Mexican operatic tenor, Francisco Araiza etablished himself as a fine Mozart tenor in the early 1980's, singing a huge range of operatic repertory ranging from Rossini to Verdi and Massanet. As a lieder interpretor, early on, he sang at the Schubert Festival at lohenems, Austria, where his account of the Die Schone Mullerin had been much admired.
Araiza sings the Cycle in the original keys for tenor voice. He gives a clear, well-produced tone throughout the 20 numbers, consistent in control and dynamics. The sound production is absolutely secure and easy sounding, perhaps the most attractive and ear-massaging timbre in this repertory after Fritz Wunderlich (Cycle also under DG). The impersonation of the pleasure and pain of the cycle's protagonist is striking and nothing short of exemplary.
The first number Das Wandern sounds a little pallid first, but then the listener soon realises that it is deliberate as he follows through the Cycle. The comparative restraint ties up cohesively with the subtlety of his reading. Araiza conjures up the story of the cycle by painting the working energy in "Am Feierabend", the eagerness of "Ungeduld" with the verses well-varied, and the poetry of the three strophic songs, the joy of "Mein!". In "Der Neugierige", a slight hesitation at "Das andere heisset" followed by a pause before "Nein" is an effective rendition.
When things turn sour and unhappy for the impressionable lover, Araiza subtly catches the hallowing in the last phrase of "Tränenregen" and follows through the bitter jealousy in the fourteenth and fifteenth songs with bitingly incisive articulation and tonal modulations. The self-pity of the marvellous "Trockne Blumen" is strking, but here there is a sliding that may be foreign to Schubert.
"Pause" is a prolonged account, with profuse sentimentalizing, followed by "Mit dem grünen Lautenbande" with a bitter "Der Jäger" with full dramatic expression.
The only quibble with this marvelous vocal account of this beloved Cycle is perhaps the sometimes eccentric accompaniment of Irwin Gage, who throughout is inclined to be rather egoistical, not least in the preludes to "Tränenregen" and "Pause". But still he is able to give the many details in the piano's important role.
This account of Die Schone Mullerin indeed has much to offer, though may not be as distinguished as Schreier and Zehr's. It is however definitely a very strong rendition if compared to other opera singers' attempts at this Cycle (Nicolai Gedda's comes to mind).
Also, it is noted that on this CD version, the accoustics tends to emphasize a slightly wiry quality in Araiza's otherwise excellent vocalization. The LP version tends to sound better on the whole.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 22, 2013 3:40 AM GMT

Mozart: Cosi Fan Tutte [DVD] [2006]
Mozart: Cosi Fan Tutte [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Margaret Marshall

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Muti's first Cosi DVD, and it is his best!, 31 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
To borrow from Mr. Morrison here, a couple of years ago, I raved about Muti's Vienna 'Cosi fan tutte' (1995) with Frittoli, Kirchschlager, Schade, Corbelli, Bacelli and Skovhus.
Having watched this 1983 Salzburg Cosi, supposed to be Muti's debut of this work, I must say that this one is even better than the 1995 Vienna production, if only by a margin.
The edge is principally in the drama, as the two casts are pretty even. In an one-on-one comparison, I find Frittoli in 1995 to be a slightly better Fiordiligi than Margaret Marshall in this 1983. However, Anne Murray's Dorabella here beats Kirchschlager's quite clearly by her more effective singing. As Ferrando, Araiza beats Schade marginally for a more refined style and more vivacious acting. Morris and Skovhus almost had a tie in the role of Gugliemo, but I would vie for Morris in terms of singing if not totally on acting.
As Despina, Battle has a definite edge over Bacelli in 1995's Vienna performance, while the 1995 Corbelli beats Bruscantini here as Don Alfonso. So, on the whole, a slighly more effective vocal team of soloists.
As far as sets go, the 1995 Vienna production is ultra-fine indeed! But the 1983 Salzburg sets are also strong - it definitely reigns over the modern settings now available widely on modern DVD productions.
What I treasure most in both Muti outputs is their respective casts.
In this 1983 performance, the singers are ALL of about the same age and all in their vocal prime.
Anne Murray stands out clearly as a mercury-witted Dorabella, not letting Battle's pert Despina stealing the show for one single moment.
Singing wise, both Araiza and Morris are in their top form. Morris's acting was a bit wooden at the earlier Act, but once he had the chance to react with Murray's Dorabella, he was virtually transformed.
Francisco Araiza's Ferrando is simply definitive - if only the cut aria of Ferrando could have been there as well (as he has sung it to perfection in the Marriner recording).
In Despina, we see why Kathleen Battle became James Levine's pet soprano at the MET at that time. She could act, and could sing in a multi-hued mood. Her scene as the 'doctor' totally upstaged the other soprano Margaret Marshall's singing. It is a pity that her wild temperament destroyaed her otherwise illustrious vocal career.

Bizet: Carmen
Bizet: Carmen
Price: £12.00

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kozena isn't a natural Carmen, but offers a new viewpoint to the role., 19 Sept. 2012
This review is from: Bizet: Carmen (Audio CD)
Well, this recording is controversial.
I own at least 6 other sets of Carmen recordings. This one is unique in the sense that -
(1) Kozena is not born to sing this role, since her fach is inapt for the low tessitura, but she manages to depict, by her inflections and nuances, a Carmen that is more wilful and hard-headed than sexy and wild;
(2) Kaufmann sings most probably the best Don Jose for the past decade, Roberto Alagna included;
(3) Rattle's reading of the score places emphases on the despair more than the struggle, and one hears, almost at the outset, the despairs in the respective roles - Carmen, Jose, Escamillo, Micaela.
Kozena's Havanaise is not a mere display of sexual allure - it is an outcry of loneliness. Similarly her Avez-vous quelque chose a repondre? and Pres des remparts de Seville are a lonely heart's outbursts, with her slightly subdued yet nuanced renditions. The real deal of Kozena's Carmen lies in Act III's En vain pour eviter, forming the pillar of Kozena's characterisation.
In a similar veim, the dark bass baritone Kostas Smoriginas's Escamillo is a doomed figure despite the apparent glamour and excitement - he would never win his Carmen despite his aspirations and challenges to Jose.
In yet a similar vein, Rattle's choice for Micaela in Genia Kuhmeier is a cool and aloof 'onlooker' to the saga of Don Jose/Carmen/Escamillo than the involved jilted lover.
The passionate tenor Jonas Kaufmann sung a virtually perfect Jose in this recording, and his passion contrasts striking with the relatively cool castings of Carmen, Micaela and Escamillo. Just savour his Va-t'en...Tu ma disde la suivre!
This is definitely not a conventional 'Carmen' that one would wish for. The non-inclusion of libretto in a deluxe setting further adds to the fact that this purported production of a Carmen is aimed at conoisseurs instead of newbies.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 19, 2012 12:00 PM BST

Live In Vienna (Limited Edition Deluxe Version)
Live In Vienna (Limited Edition Deluxe Version)
Price: £9.63

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genuinely impressive recital., 27 July 2012
It is rare to hear Lang Lang play Beethoven. His Beethoven Concertos do no muster the highest marks, for sure, but in this recital, his sonatas are a real musical treat.
The seemingly simple opus 2 Sonata in C Major is beautifully crafted with lively nuances with full stylistic awareness.
The Appassionata is an impressive performance. Lang Lang does not give in to emotional excess here, but plays with well-controlled dynamism throughout, giving firy explosions wherever the score calls for, yet totally without mannerism.
But to me, the real gem lies in the more modern pieces.
Prokofiev's war-horse piece, the No. 7 Sonata, is a real marvel under Lang's hands, with the spitfire toccato finale.
The biggest surprise, however, is Lang's 'Iberia Book 1' of Albeniz. Lang has much to say in this piece - the three scenes of Spain in which he infuses with even some Chinese element - is a genuinely touching performance that differs, yet is not less than, Alicia de Larrocha's classic performance.
The slight disappointment lies in Lang's Chopin pieces, of whom he still owns a certain amount of personal bias, for sure.
A wonderful recital, and a vast leap from the last one on Deutche Grammpohon, yet even greatly leap from the debut Tanglewood Recital.

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