This was one of the first recordings I reviewed when I first started postings on Amazon over seven years ago so I thought I should revisit this re-issue to see if anything about my reaction had changed. The most striking thing about it remains Jonas Kaufmann's peerless Huon. I had not previously heard his tenor either live or recorded but it was immediately apparent that he was very special and so it has since proved, as we await his first recorded Siegmund. His co-singers are good enough, but re-acquaintance with the Birgit Nilsson and Leonie Rysanek singing Reiza confirms my original observation that Hillevi Martinpelto is merely pleasant compared with those goddesses. In this instance, it seems that Gardiner need not fear comparison with previous conductors such as Keilberth and Kubelik, although his leaner HIP band is hardly as apt in such hyper-Romantic music.
The bulk of my first review I reprint here, as I find nothing much to revise:
The excellent German tenor Jonas Kaufmann, whom I heard in Puccini's "Rondine" last year and found very impressive, sings Huon with a baritonal quality that does not impede the projection of a ringing top. Steve Davislim sings Oberon - very well, but his is a smaller, lighter, neater voice, As in his otherwise very informative and intelligent review, Mr Bryson does not consider the singers, I would add that while he is right that the English even from non-native speakers is excellent (both Kaufmann's and Martinpelto's being virtually impeccable), the exception is the attractively voiced Marina Comparato as Fatima - but her accent matters little as she is playing an "exotic" role: an Arabian maid. Orchestral playing, sound, production, the narrator's delivery of Gardiner's link narrative: everything works to make this work not a hodge-podge but a coherent, entertaining whole, show-casing some delightful music - albeit bewilderingly disparate in its synthesis of different styles. The only slight disappointment comes in Martinpelto's rendering of the showpiece aria "Ocean, thou mighty monster"; she simply hasn't the heft of voice to do it full justice but it is nonetheless an attractive performance.