on 7 June 2010
A superb version of Knoxville, summer of 1915. Silvia Mcnair's diction is excellent, helped by a very clear and well-balanced recording. This is the one weakness of the excellent Naxos version with Karina Gauvin - you can't hear the words clearly. Both of the above favour a more leisurely tempo than the famous Nonesuch version with Dawn Upshaw. I think this suits the piece, though the nonesuch version is exciting. Good to have heard all three.
The other pieces are also excellent, especially the rarely recorded Medea's Dance of vengeance.
on 6 October 2012
I already have both the Dawn Upshaw and Kathleen Battle versions of 'Knoxville' but I have to agree with previous reviewers in that Silvia McNair, Yoel Levi and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra do a truly excellent job. Miss McNair handles the vocal line with consummate ease, and her annunciation is a model of clarity. Is it a trifle slower than other versions? Not sure if it is but, whatever, the pace seems just right to my ears.
I bought the disc on account of 'Knoxville', but the Second Essay was a wonderful bonus. Altogether longer and more complex than the earlier 'Essay' it receives a first class reading (and recording) here. Thoroughly recommended.