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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terfel rules supreme
This recording of Verdi's comic masterpiece pretty much hangs any other out to dry. It's witty, charming, never sluggish but also never hurried. Abbado, in spite of his poor health, makes orchestra and choir sparkle with lustre.
But the true pleasure is the ensemble. This is not an opera with long arias and main characters versus the extras, so the smoothness of the...
Published on 13 Jan 2005 by qpad

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Falstaff that fails to come to life
Unfortunately the two big names in this performance, Terfel and Hampson, are also its two biggest drawbacks. As Gramophone said when reviewing this set, Terfel fails to exude his typically larger than life charisma here on audio alone (as opposed to his DVD representations), and Hampson, singing in his usual beautified manner, fails to convey even an ounce of nastiness...
Published on 14 Aug 2011 by JM Olmesdahl


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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Falstaff that fails to come to life, 14 Aug 2011
By 
JM Olmesdahl - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Verdi: Falstaff (Audio CD)
Unfortunately the two big names in this performance, Terfel and Hampson, are also its two biggest drawbacks. As Gramophone said when reviewing this set, Terfel fails to exude his typically larger than life charisma here on audio alone (as opposed to his DVD representations), and Hampson, singing in his usual beautified manner, fails to convey even an ounce of nastiness for his character. To be sure, neither of these two possess the requisite Italian timbre that is so essential and so abundant with baritones such as Gobbi (for Karajan - EMI) and Bruson (for Giulini - DG). A pity because the set otherwise has a lot going for it and a new recording has been long overdue. The ladies in the cast all do a decent job without being particularly memorable. Abbado conducts lovingly but without offering much gutsiness. This is a studio recording that, alas, is far too lacking 'atmosphere' for such a piece. My vote still lies with the Giulini set, a live performance that conveys the swagger of Falstaff's character much more convincingly and has better sound than Karajan's 1950's 'classic' recording.
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3.0 out of 5 stars should have been better, 26 Mar 2014
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Stanley Crowe (Greenville, SC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Verdi: Falstaff (Audio CD)
My feeling about this "Falstaff" is like my feeling about the Kleiber "Freischutz." The orchestral work is fine, but the vocal side comes up short. The fact that all the voices seem to lack warmth I am going to attribute to the recording venue, but apart from that there are problems. The Alice and Meg are OK, but we need some more weight in the voices. In the ensembles, crisply conducted, they do pretty well, but in the solo moments they sound just a bit underpowered. Larissa Diadkova as Quickly comes off best -- she has a fruity lower range, and if the voice thins out a bit when she goes higher, it is still firm, and she sings characterfully. Dorothea Roschmann sounds fine in the middle of the voice, but her high notes have no vibrato to speak of and sound glassy and unnaturally produced, though that could be an artifact of the venue. But it takes away from the magic of the final scene; Barbara Hendricks, for Guilini, is still the best Nanetta I've heard. Thomas Hampson is a bit light-voiced for Ford -- compared to Merrill for Solti, for example -- but he sings and characterizes well. Caius and Bardolfo are OK; Pistol, sung by Kotscherga (a Boris!) is luxury casting. Daniil Shtoda is far too matter-of-fact for Fenton, and he lacks the delicacy in his upper range that the role needs.

So what about Falstaff? I guess Bryn Terfel was out of sorts. The voice is not ideally firm, and he makes the mistake of trying to do too much with the words and loses the musical line as a result. The dynamic shifts and the tempo adjustments -- all in the service of characterization -- distract from the music. It's not an easy role, and it requires a gifted singing actor, and I wonder if Terfel (still young when this was recorded around 2000) had not yet come to terms with the role's requirements. There's a danger, of course, of singing at the expense of dramatic expression, a criticism that might be made of Bruson, with Guilini, but at least with Bruson there's the very beautiful singing, and if one is to err on one side or the other, at least for a recording, it should be on the side of the singing. Geraint Evans, for Solti, is just about perfect in the role. So . . . something of a disappointment, I'm afraid, but there is Abbado and the Berlin Phil . . .
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terfel rules supreme, 13 Jan 2005
This review is from: Verdi: Falstaff (Audio CD)
This recording of Verdi's comic masterpiece pretty much hangs any other out to dry. It's witty, charming, never sluggish but also never hurried. Abbado, in spite of his poor health, makes orchestra and choir sparkle with lustre.
But the true pleasure is the ensemble. This is not an opera with long arias and main characters versus the extras, so the smoothness of the ensemble is incredibly important to make Fallstaff fly. Bryn Terfel is the very embodiment of the corpulent cavalier; although the part is very demanding, Terfel rolls along as if the music was written for him in particular. Tito Gobbi for Karajan pales to a shimmer in comparison.
Thomas Hampson as Ford is also very well cast as the "cuckold" and not too bright gentleman. The rest of the cast are composed of less well-known singers (save Dorothea Röschmann), but each and everyone plays their part to perfection. There are never any vocal or dramatical slips in the breakneck ensembles that makes up most of the opera.
In short: This is the ultimate Falstaff - Bryn Terfel carries the weight of the obese ladykiller with so much grace and humour, that one cannot help but smile, and the rest of the cast, as well as orchestra and the small choir parts are carried off so elegant, that one could hardly think it better.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful feast!, 10 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Verdi: Falstaff (Audio CD)
A wonderful opera . Attractive and delightful ensemble.
Added to this, an amazing price to pay for such excellent quality.
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