Customer Review

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More Punch than Perfume, 13 Jun 2012
This review is from: Love and Longing - Ravel / Dvorįk / Mahler (Audio CD)
To convey the eroticism of Ravel and Mahler's profound melancholy, a mezzo soprano needs considerable talents. Magdalena Kozená has been gifted a superb voice, though her interpretative choices on this new disc are less refined. Husband Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker may provide a luxurious sonic envelope, but the content doesn't always live up to the challenge.

Kozená's performance of Dvo'ák's Biblical Songs, a series of yearning sonic postcards, relish the tension between dolour and declamation. The throb of the orchestra underpins a natural percussiveness in the Czech language. And there's no better mezzo than Kozená to sing these songs at the moment. Shading passages, imbuing others with youthful zest, Kozená constantly responds to the text, making for well judged and captured performance.

But that slight edginess doesn't translate to either Shéhérazade or the Rückert Lieder. The former, while played with ravishingly sensuality, reveals a lack of vocal focus. With the truly luscious competition of Susan Graham, Anne Sofie von Otter and Renée Fleming on three recent recordings, Kozená's rendition falls short of Ravel's perfumed triptych.

And Mahler's affecting settings of Friedrich Rückert are oddly hasty. Kozená constantly anticipates Rattle's equable beat, which undermines the dark night of the soul in 'Um Mitternacht'. Singing its conclusion mars the earlier passages. And while the cor anglais playing in 'Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen' is wonderfully plaintive, it merely serves to underline Kozená's emotional shortcomings in this repertoire. After the succulent introspection of Janet Baker or Brigitte Fassbaender, these are somewhat cursory performances. A pity, when the Dvo'ák promised so much.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Jun 2012 12:32:51 BDT
This CD was the Gramaphone's pick of the whole month in its July issue!

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Jun 2012 20:27:58 BDT
N. Spindler says:
But they need to keep their advertisers happy!

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Feb 2013 00:16:49 GMT
There is a tendency to think that Rattle is better than he really is probably due to English chauvinism. Good, yes. Very good? sometimes, Great, no! and that goes for his band as well. Nigel Kennedy is another similarly overrated artist. Technically fine but with little true musical depth. I hope that you are not suggesting that such an august publication as The Gramophone can be influenced by advertisers. Surely not. Mind you, I used to believe every word in the News of the World.

Posted on 7 Jun 2014 10:06:13 BDT
david says:
Hi Entartete,
I agree. The Dvorak in style and content suits Kozena down to a T. I got this CD because of seeing her on film in a BPO Rattle live concert from Prague Castle on Sky Arts singing this work. She has considerable stage presence...Sylvia Sass's charisma.

I thought the Ravel well sung but lacking voluptousness. The Ruckert again have too many finer previous recordings.

Again we have the Philharmonie sound which is unpredictably good at certain points, but generally I find far below that of Amsterdam or Vienna.

Still the Dvorak is what I wanted and I am happy with that.
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