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Wallace: Lurline CD

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Conductor: Bonynge
  • Composer: Wallace
  • Audio CD (1 Jun. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B003IP2Y80
  • Other Editions: Paperback  |  Unknown Binding
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 158,060 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Lurline - Various Performers

Product Description

Product Description

Keith Lewis (Rupert) - Paul Ferris (Guilhelm) - David Soar (Rhineberg) - Donald Maxwell (The Baron Truenfels) - Roderick Earle (Zelieck) - Sally Silver (Lurline)... - Victorian Opera Chorus & Orchestra - Richard Bonynge, direction

BBC Review

The slow rehabilitation of William Vincent Wallace takes another step forward with the first recording of his third opera, Lurline.

Begun in the mid-1840s and first seen at Covent Garden in 1860, it is based on the familiar legend of the Rhine Maiden who lured passing ships to their watery graves only to fall fatefully in love with a young nobleman. While Wallace’s "beautiful, impressive and picturesque" music met with near universal approval at its premiere, the libretto, by Edward Fitzball, a playwright with a reputation for melodrama who decided a happy ending for the piece would prove an original twist, was greeted with no less universal opprobrium, dismissed by George Bernard Shaw as "desperate trash".

Wallace’s music had many champions in its day. The most prominent advocate was none other than Hector Berlioz, who regarded him as "a composer to be reckoned with". If Lurline didn’t repeat the triumph of his first opera, Maritana, it was nonetheless staged in Ireland, Australia and the United States over the next decade. Such was its success that at least four different publishers quickly issued vocal scores for the work.

Left in virtual neglect since then (Maritana, by comparison, stayed in the repertoire of many leading houses until the late 1920s) Lurline finds a new champion in conductor Richard Bonynge, who has previously recorded two arias from the opera with Deborah Riedel for Melba Recordings, and who prepared his own performing edition for this genially persuasive account with the forces of Victorian Opera.

Caught between Weber and Mendelssohn – a gift of a proposition to Bonynge’s fingertip delicacy with the baton – and brushing a little clumsily up against Wagner, Wallace’s music is easy on the ear, unfailingly mellifluous, and nimbly adept at broadening into bracing drama. There’s a delicate and pretty melodic palette in use, and a big-boned flourish, underpinned by Teutonic winds and brass, in the set pieces, all of which Bonynge makes persuasive use of.

Sally Silver is a seductive siren, Richard Lewis a sober (and rather mature-sounding) love interest, David Soar an imposing Rhine King, and Roderick Earle’s gnome Zelieck characterful and memorable.

Anyone familiar with Balfe’s The Bohemian Girl will know what to expect here, and won’t be disappointed.

--Michael Quinn

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
'Lurline', written initially between 1847 and 1848 belongs to a British school of Romantic Opera that has been all-but forgotten. The principal composers who formed this group were Julius Benedict (1804-1885), Michael William Balfe (1808-1870), William Wallace (1812-1865), Edward Loder (1813-1865) and George Macfarren (1813-1887). Wallace is remembered today (if at all) for 'Maritana' (1845), an opera which held the stage into the early 20th century. 'Lurline', despite being even more attractive, never really established itself in the repertoire: the principal reason may well have been the convoluted and flowery libretto by Edward Fitzball (1792-1873). This was a common problem for British composers at the time who, in the absence of anything better, were compelled to set texts by such figures as Alfred Bunn (1796-1860), John Oxenford (1812-1877) and Henry Chorley (1808-1872).

Today, the text is less of a problem as the whole genre has acquired a 'period' appeal which it would be unwise to 'update' or otherwise tinker with. Victorian operas, for all their creaky plots, inconsistent characters and labyrinthine libretti, are endlessly fascinating and full of musical treasures. 'Lurline' is certainly one of these - and we are given a recording as complete as possible, with numbers from both first and second editions of the vocal score. Richard Bonynge has prepared this new edition and used his vast experience to make a highly satisfactory conflation of the various revisions which Wallace made to the opera.

The performance by Victorian Opera has great vigour, if not quite the degree of polish that a fully-professional recording might bring. That being said, the soloists are all excellent, with Sally Silver commanding in the challenging coloratura title role.
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When I saw that this CD feature4d Richard Bonynge as its conductor, I naturally assumed that Victorian Opera was the professional Australian opera company of that name, based in Victoria: instead I discovered that it is in fact a highly enterprising ensemble from the north west of England who have got together to perform and record largely forgotten 19th century repertoire- that rare beast before the 1900s: English Opera.

The CD booklet, whilst it lists the orchestral and chorus performers, is somewhat coy about the ensemble- even the website of Victorian Opera North West is not overly detailed about the history and pedigree of the organisation and its musicians. I am assuming that the orchestra and chorus are largely amateur or semi-professional: not that this causes me any concern. I have long been an advocate of amateur orchestras and choirs, which are often more adventurous in their programming than their professional counterparts, and provide just as high a performing standard.

Having got that off my chest, with the exception of some brittle and slightly shaky playing from the violin section in the overture (where they are at their most exposed) all sections of the orchestra excel themselves. There are particularly fine examples throughout of detailed and beautifully phrased woodwind playing, whilst the brass section is solid and reliable. The modestly-sized but excellently characterised Chorus also acquit themselves with distinction.

And what a cast! Stalwarts of the English operatic scene including Keith Lewis, Roderick Earle and the inimitable Donald Maxwell (a wonderful Falstaff in Peter Stein's WNO production of Verdi's opera, and in Vaughan Williams' `Sir John in Love').
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By M. Joyce TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 April 2011
Format: Audio CD
This is a discovery I've been pleased to have made; an undiscovered gem, no less and an opera that is unlikely to receive a production in my lifetime. The plot, based on the Romantic legend of the Lorelei, is utterly preposterous and the libretto is magnificently OTT. The music, however, is something else; it is primarily reminiscent of Weber and Mendelssohn, with the odd foretaste of G&S, Victorian ballads and even Wagner. We are indebted to Richard Bonynge for seeking out this rarity and his cast of singers by and large do him proud. Sally Silver fields gleaming tone and secure coloratura in the title role and if Keith Lewis sounds a little tentative as Rupert, the hero of the piece, his is still a splendid voice, even if his best days are clearly behind him. There are two fine Australian mezzos, Fiona Janes and Bernadette Cullen, in supporting roles, while the most effective performances come from the baritones and basses; David Soar as the Rhine King, Roderick Earle as Zeliek and Donald Maxwell as the Baron Truenfels. Soar has a sonorous bass voice, even if the microphone catches a touch of grittiness in his tone, while Earle is both resonant and characterful as the Gnome. His fellow veteran, Donald Maxwell, is in splendid voice, declaiming the ludicrous libretto with commendable bite and enthusiasm ("Hist, here he comes! Oh what a noble presence!"). Naxos does not, incidentally, provide a libretto; one is available on line, but differs from the text in a number of places. The orchestra is acceptable, no more; the Victorian Opera Chorus only just pass muster. Not a perfect recording, by any means, but a discovery, I would suggest, well worth making.
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