Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Click Here Shop Kindle Amazon Music Unlimited for Family Shop now Shop now
Profile for Nicholas A. Deutsch > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Nicholas A. De...
Top Reviewer Ranking: 51,328
Helpful Votes: 285

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Nicholas A. Deutsch (Cambridge, MA USA)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
pixel
Lieder
Lieder

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inexplicably Neglected Hindemith Gems, Superbly Performed, 8 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Lieder (Audio CD)
Hindemith's songs for solo voice with piano are probably the least-known part of his catalogue. Yet he was nearly as prolific in this genre as in others: even setting aside his great hour-long Rilke cycle Das Marienleben and the equally weighty set of 13 Latin Christmas Motets, there remain nearly 90 individual settings of poems, most in German but some in French, English or Latin.
This superb 65' recital by soprano Juliane Banse and pianist Axel Bauni is the finest single CD I know devoted entirely to Hindemith's piano songs, 34 of them in all. Apart from the Op. 18 cycle dating from 1920 and two brief, luminous songs from 1955, the program wisely focuses on the 1930s and early 1940s, rich and productive times artistically. I'm particularly glad to have the six French songs, four on texts by Rilke and one each by Mallarmé and Baudelaire, as this is a language that always seemed to drawn out the composer's loveliest lyrical vein. But the wide-ranging German songs are no less powerful, imaginative and inspired. Full texts and translations provided.
Highly recommended to Hindemith fans and lovers of German Lieder. Further recommendations: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Aribert Reimann's Hindemith disc (Orfeo), which only overlaps with this one on three songs, and Ruth Ziesak's CD (cpo) of the six Marienleben songs that Hindemith orchestrated plus piano songs, some (but not all) duplicating this CD.


Hindemith: Nobilissima visione
Hindemith: Nobilissima visione

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the Familiar Suite, but the Rarely Heard Entire Ballet, 4 Jun. 2010
With numerous CD versions available, the suite that Hindemith drew from his 1938 ballet on the life of St. Francis of Assisi, "Nobilissima Visione," deservedly ranks just after the "Mathis der Maler Symphony" and the "Symphonic Metamorphoses of Themes by Weber" in popularity. This 1993 recording, however, is of the entire score (to my knowledge the only one ever issued) which is more than twice as long as the familiar excerpts - 48' compared to 22'. The other notable difference is in the scoring, for a slightly smaller band than the familiar excerpts; in 1939, Hindemith reorchestrated the whole ballet for larger forces, and used that version in the suite.
Anyone who knows and loves the suite should definitely snap up this CD. The "new" music is every bit as wonderful as the familiar pages, among Hindemith's warmest, most spiritually inspired scores. It's fascinating to hear the well-known passages in their dramatic context: in some ways, they are even more satisfying than in the Suite, wonderful as that is. And this is an excellent performance, beautifully conducted and played, in clean and ample sound. The English-language notes are good, and the brief synopsis is helpful in following the outlines of the stage action.
As filler, there's a pleasant if unremarkable 1958 set of orchestrations of old French dances. But it's the ballet that makes this CD essential listening. Highly recommended.


Take A Girl Like You [DVD] [2008]
Take A Girl Like You [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Hayley Mills

12 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't Blame Amis: A Fine Novel Botched, 3 May 2010
Kingsley Amis's sharply observed and bitingly funny 1960 novel of heterosexual relations at a time of rapid cultural change, still very much worth reading, was unwisely moved well into the "swinging 60s" in this 1970 screen adaptation. The result is tepid, unconvincing, and often unpleasantly smarmy and sexist. Every change from Amis - and there are many, both great and small - is a step in the wrong direction, and the film feels dated and confused. That it is at all bearable is due to Hayley Mills's palpable sincerity as Jenny Bunn, the "girl" of the title; Sheila Hancock (Martha) and Penelope Keith (a cameo as a poll worker) also provide moments of genuine enjoyment. Oliver Reed, however, seems miscast as modern rake Patrick Standish, and comes across as glum and uncertain.
In 2000, the BBC made an excellent 3-part TV film set firmly in the right period (and with the right music), with an expert screenplay by Andrew Davies, lively and assured direction by Nick Hurran and a fine cast headed by Sienna Guillory (Jenny), Rupert Graves (Patrick), Hugh Bonneville, Emma Chambers and Robert Daws; Leslie Phillips makes a brief but memorable appearance. Issued only on VHS in the U.K. - and never in any form in North America - it's overdue for release on DVD.


Aventures Du Roi Pausole-Complete
Aventures Du Roi Pausole-Complete
Price: £12.16

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honegger's Delightful Operetta, Complete on CD at Last, 24 April 2010
"The Adventures of King Pausole" (1929-30) was Swiss composer Arthur Honneger's first (& successful) venture into operetta, & this fine world premiere recording (1992) will delight those who enjoy French light opera. (Susan Graham included one number on her excellent "French Operetta Arias" CD on Erato.) The catchy and sophisticated score pays homage to the whole history of the genre, stretching back to Offenbach and Chabrier. The music sparkles in the fast numbers & grows properly wistful in the slower ones; the ravishing orchestration (for a 35-piece band) is a particular delight.
Albert Willemetz's text, based on a novel by Pierre Louys, goes where none of Honegger's distinguished predecessors would have dared to tread. The fantasy kingdom where the title character has 365 wives, one for each night of the year, might just barely have been acceptable; not so a trio in which the innocent 20-year-old heroine does a bit of "comparison shopping," kiss-wise - between two suitors, one a lesbian prima ballerina in male clothing, the other a randy male page dressed (temporarily) as a milkmaid... all set to the most beautiful music in the score. If the piece never - well, hardly ever - threatens to topple over into tastelessness, it's due to the satirical verve and verbal dexterity of the libretto & above all to the high spirits & inventiveness of the score.
This is an excellent performance. The dialogue has been trimmed, although there's still a lot of it; the score is given complete. The cast is anchored in the work of 2 savvy veterans, baritone Gabriel Bacquier (Pausole) & tenor Michel Sénéchal (Taxis). Rachel Yakar is also outstanding as Diane (she sings the number Graham recorded, a bluesy aria of frustration about getting to spend the night with her husband only once a year). The other soloists, the chorus (Basle Madrigalistes) & orchestra (Atelier Philharmonique Suisse) do just fine under Mario Venzago's lively direction. Full libretto in French only, notes & number-by-number synopsis in French, English, German & Italian.
Update (2010): Brilliant Classics has issued a single CD of the entire score (virtually complete), in a very accomplished performance by the young Dutch troupe Opera Trionfo & the Nieuw Ensemble conducted by Ed Spanjaard; French text only of the lyrics, but a particularly detailed English-language synopsis. A worthwhile and inexpensive alternative for those who want only the musical numbers.


Les Aventures du Roi Pausole
Les Aventures du Roi Pausole
Offered by Clic Musique !
Price: £16.10

5.0 out of 5 stars Honegger's Delightful Operetta, Complete on CD at Last, 24 April 2010
"The Adventures of King Pausole" (1929-30) was Swiss composer Arthur Honneger's first (& successful) venture into operetta, & this fine world premiere recording (1992) will delight those who enjoy French light opera. (Susan Graham included one number on her excellent "French Operetta Arias" CD on Erato.) The catchy and sophisticated score pays homage to the whole history of the genre, stretching back to Offenbach and Chabrier. The music sparkles in the fast numbers & grows properly wistful in the slower ones; the ravishing orchestration (for a 35-piece band) is a particular delight.
Albert Willemetz's text, based on a novel by Pierre Louys, goes where none of Honegger's distinguished predecessors would have dared to tread. The fantasy kingdom where the title character has 365 wives, one for each night of the year, might just barely have been acceptable; not so a trio in which the innocent 20-year-old heroine does a bit of "comparison shopping," kiss-wise - between two suitors, one a lesbian prima ballerina in male clothing, the other a randy male page dressed (temporarily) as a milkmaid... all set to the most beautiful music in the score. If the piece never - well, hardly ever - threatens to topple over into tastelessness, it's due to the satirical verve and verbal dexterity of the libretto & above all to the high spirits & inventiveness of the score.
This is an excellent performance. The dialogue has been trimmed, although there's still a lot of it; the score is given complete. The cast is anchored in the work of 2 savvy veterans, baritone Gabriel Bacquier (Pausole) & tenor Michel Sénéchal (Taxis). Rachel Yakar is also outstanding as Diane (she sings the number Graham recorded, a bluesy aria of frustration about getting to spend the night with her husband only once a year). The other soloists, the chorus (Basle Madrigalistes) & orchestra (Atelier Philharmonique Suisse) do just fine under Mario Venzago's lively direction. Full libretto in French only, notes & number-by-number synopsis in French, English, German & Italian.
Update (2010): Brilliant Classics has issued a single CD of the entire score (virtually complete), in a very accomplished performance by the young Dutch troupe Opera Trionfo & the Nieuw Ensemble conducted by Ed Spanjaard; French text only of the lyrics, but a particularly detailed English-language synopsis. A worthwhile and inexpensive alternative for those who want only the musical numbers.


Handel: Giulio Cesare in Egitto
Handel: Giulio Cesare in Egitto
Price: £23.54

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Winner from Petrou and the Orchestra of Patras, 15 Mar. 2010
Having given us the best recording yet of Handel's TAMERLANO, conductor George Petrou and his Orchestra of Patras have come up with another winner with this version of GIULIO CESARE IN EGITTO, another of the composer's operatic "trifecta" of 1724-5. (The third was RODELINDA.) Once again, Petrou has made his studio recording following stage performances, so we have the best of both worlds; once again, he's put together a team of singers with no weak links. Add to that his near-impeccable conducting and the fine playing, plus an uncut and unadulterated text (original 1724 version with no interpolations), and despite ample competition this version goes straight to the head of the list.
Four of the singers are familiar from past Petrou Handel operas: the indispensible mezzo Mary-Ellen Nesi (a superb Sesto), mezzo Irini Karaianni (a fine Cornelia), baritone Tassis Christoyannis (a powerful Achilla) and Petros Magoulos (the minor role of Curio). Mezzo Romina Basso makes an imperious Tolomeo, and the two "stars," sopranos Emanuela Galli (Cleopatra) and Kristrina Hammerstroem (Cesare) are both excellent artists. The countertenor Nikos Spanatis (mis-listed as a bass on the back cover) is fine in the small part of Nireno, thankfully not padded out with a superfluous aria (as in the Rene Jacobs recording). As always with Petrou, there's a real sense of team-work and common purpose that's immensely satisfying.
I haven't kept up with the flood of performances of this most popular of Handel's operas, both on CD and DVD, and I'm sure other listeners will have favorite singers and recordings. But if you want a consistently vivid and beautiful audio version that does full justice to this inspired and entertaining opera, I strongly recommend Petrou.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 24, 2010 3:44 PM BST


Gay, John / Britten, Benjamin - The Beggar's Opera [DVD] [2009]
Gay, John / Britten, Benjamin - The Beggar's Opera [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Gay
Offered by muzicmadnezz
Price: £11.99

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous EOG Memento, Great Baker et al., 30 Dec. 2009
The Cinderella of Britten's operas, "The Beggar's Opera" (1948) has begun to receive more attention recently. Rightly so, in my opinion:
harmonic and orchestral invention is as strong as in the contemporaneous "Rape of Lucretia" and "Albert Herring," and the way Britten sometimes links several of the short tunes of John Gay's 1728 "ballad opera" into longer sequences is ingenious and sometimes brilliant. Not just an "arrangement," then, but a modern re-imagining, akin to the composer's very personal treatment of folksongs - and, like these, no doubt destined to remain controversial.
There are two complete recordings,the first from 1993 (Argo), with Steuart Bedford leading an excellent orchestra and an experienced cast of singer-actors. For some reason, Decca omitted this from its big Britten boxes, so it was left to Arkiv Music to reissue it (check their website). I have not heard the recent Chandos version conducted by Christian Curnyn.
Also, Pearl has brought out a single CD (in poor off-the-air sound) of a substantial portion of a broadcast from September 1948, the closest to an "original cast recording" we are ever likely to have, though this studio version omits 8 numbers and adapts the spoken text drastically. Still, to hear Peter Pears, Nancy Evans, and the rest of the English Opera Group cast sing the roles they "created," under Britten's baton, is wonderful.
As is this black-and white version (in mono) from 1963. This isn't a complete, original studio production like those of "Billy Budd," "Peter Grimes" and "Owen Wingrave" (the latter composed for TV) issued in this series, but a 90' abridged studio adaptation of the then-new second English Opera Group production (18 of 55 numbers omitted). Furthermore, according to the DVD booklet it was all shot in a mere 3 hours, and occasionally this shows. Yet the rough edges work perfectly well for this piece, which after all is very self-consciously an opera being presented on a stage, and a rag-tag low-life one at that: the heavy character make-up that looks grotesque in close-up, the obvious lack of liquid in drinking vessels, even the occasional technical hitch, as when a curtain gets stuck on the tenor's shoulder and the mezzo discreetly unhooks it - all this is in the spirit of the piece. Even the slight manic edge verging on exhaustion during the finale feels appropriate.
But what makes it worth seeing and hearing, apart from the late Colin Graham's lively production - he does some shrewd editing of Gay's original dialogue - is the work of a fine group of singers and instrumentalists under that excellent conductor Meredith Davies. Anna Pollak and David Kelly are a sharp and vinegary pair as the Peachums, Bryan Drake a sonorous Lockit, Joan Edwards a dark-tempered Jenny Diver and Edith Coates an over-the-top Mrs. Trapes. The central love triangle is firmly anchored in tenor Kenneth McKellar's dashing and virile Capt. Macheath, a man capable of both great charm and great cruelty (and some beautiful singing). The role of Lucy may not give soprano Heather Harper much opportunity to display the full beauty of her voice, but the way she spits out the word "rrrat" in her first number is irresistible. Finally, Janet Baker's Polly is a joy, gorgeously sung and acted with a delicate mix of sincerity and tongue-in-cheek - how lovely to have a souvenir of her comic stage work to put alongside her Julius Caesar, Mary Stuart, Orpheus, two Didos and Britten's Kate ("Owen Wingrave").
Again: though Decca have done what appears to be an excellent job of refurbishing the original tape (especially the audio) don't expect the high technical polish of other titles in this series, and you're likely to find much to enjoy.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 7, 2014 9:07 AM GMT


Stravinsky: The Composer, Vol. 3 - Perséphone
Stravinsky: The Composer, Vol. 3 - Perséphone

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Perverse Take on a Masterpiece, 28 Dec. 2009
Stravinsky's "Persephone" is one of his most beautiful scores, and one of the least known of his major works. True, without its dance element, the combination of speech, song and orchestral passages can seem odd and even confusing at first, particularly stripped of the elaborate scenario which Andre Gide provided with his text. But time and repeated listenings have convinced me that this is a very special work, the feminine counterpart to "Oedipus Rex" (and with links to IS's other Greek myths, "Apollo" and Orpheus" as well).
In recent years "Persephone" on CD has attracted such top-notch conductors as Michael Tilson Thomas, Kent Nagano, Kurt Masur and Andrew Davis, in addition to two versions under the composer (one studio, one live). All of these are worth hearing. This version by Robert Craft is currently in limbo, presumably awaiting reissue on Naxos. Its major attraction is tenor John Aler, who not only sings the difficult role of Eumolpe beautifully but gives the most idiomatically Francophone interpretation of the text on disc. Orchestra and choruses - the latter very important - are good, but MTT, Nagano, Masur and Davis have set the bar high. And Robert Craft's conducting is a real head-scratcher: deliberately ignoring the composer's tempo markings, he takes almost everything unbelievably fast, and in the process trivializes long stretches of the score. I'm not kidding, it's that perverse and insensitive. And I should add that I've enjoyed, and own, quite a few of Craft's Stravinsky performances. So my advice is: avoid.
While the MTT and Nagano versions are both excellent, my personal favorite is Andrew Davis's live version from the Proms a few years back. Davis takes the composer's tempo markings seriously, though not literally. He understands that contrasts between stasis and sudden movement are fundamental to "Persephone," and consequently his reading has both rhythmic vitality and weight. The BBC Symphony Orchestra and the various choirs can stand comparison with the best, Paul Groves is a fine tenor soloist, and speaker Nicole Tibbels gives an outstanding performance of the tricky title role, the finest I've ever heard.


BBC Proms 2003 - Stravinsky: Perséphone & Dukas: Overture Polyeucte
BBC Proms 2003 - Stravinsky: Perséphone & Dukas: Overture Polyeucte

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb "Persephone" - the Best Choice, 18 Dec. 2009
Stravinsky's "Persephone" is one of his most beautiful works, and one of his most unjustly neglected. True, stripped of its dance element, the combination of speech, song and orchestral passages can seem odd at first, particularly as Stravinsky suppressed the elaborate scenario which Andre Gide provided with his text (and which the composer used as a guide in writing the piece), no doubt rightly judging that its future was in the concert hall, if anywhere. But time and repeated listenings have convinced me that this is one a very special work, the feminine counterpart to "Oedipus Rex" (and with links to IS's other Greek myths, "Apollo" and Orpheus" as well).
It helps that "Persephone" has in recent years attracted conductors on CD such as Michael Tilson Thomas, Kent Nagano and Kurt Masur, in addition to two versions under the composer. All of these are worth hearing, and even Robert Craft's perversely rushed version (currently in limbo) has the most idiomatically Francophone tenor of all, John Aler. But in my opinion, the palm goes to this live 2003 Proms performance: it is the most persuasive performance of "Persephone" I have ever heard.
Credit goes first to Sir Andrew Davis, who (like Masur, but unlike Tilson Thomas or Nagano) takes the composer's tempo markings seriously, if not literally. He understands that contrasts between stasis and sudden movement are fundamental to "Persephone," and consequently his reading has both rhythmic vitality and weight. The BBC Symphony Orchestra and the various choirs can stand comparison with the best of other versions, and Paul Groves is a fine tenor soloist.
But Davis's trump card is the Persephone of Nicole Tibbels, the most successful of any I've heard. Not only is her French exquisite and her timing sensitive, she is the only speaker among the many who have recorded it to fully grasp and articulate the growth of the protagonist from naive girl to mature woman/goddess who, in Gide and Stravinsky's Christianized take on the myth, consciously seeks to relieve the suffering of the denizens of the Underworld. The whole weighty machinery of speaker, tenor, choruses and large orchestra finally seems justified. A fine achievement, indeed!


Last King [DVD] [2003] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Last King [DVD] [2003] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by M and N Media US
Price: £103.69

67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Avoid this cut & censored U.S. version!, 20 Oct. 2009
This is NOT the original 4-hour, 4-episode version of Joe Wright & Adrian Hodges's excellent Charles II: The Power and the Passion, but the 3-hour, 2-episode version shown on A&E in the U.S. The longer original is vastly preferable, and there is no reason for anyone who has the capacity to watch Region 2 DVDs not to get that version instead. On that 2-DVD set, you also get interesting commentaries on the episodes. Oh, and in the scene where Nell Gwynn (sp?) poses topless for a painter, you get a glimpse of her, er... oranges. (Too much for the tender sensibilities of American audiences, apparently.)
Seriously, this is an outstanding collaboration between writer, director, designers and cinematographer (with the Czech Republic standing in for England!), and with an exceptionally fine cast. It was director Joe Wright's "breakthrough" film - before Pride & Prejudice and Atonement - and conveys real passion for its subject on the part of its makers.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 20, 2012 9:44 PM GMT


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6