Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


CD REVIEW

Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android


Mahler symphony 6 Nott


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

 

 

 

alternatively
CD: Crotchet AmazonUK AmazonUS

 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Donna: Opera and concert arias
Mitridate, rè di Ponto: Al destin che la minaccia – Aspasia [6.05]
Die Zauberflöte: Ach, ich fühl’s – Pamina [3.59]
Le nozze di Figaro: E Susanna non vien…Dove sono – Contessa [5.44]; Giunse alfin il momento...Deh, vieni, non tardar – Susanna [4.21]
La finta semplice: Senti l’eco, ove t’aggiri – Rosina [6.47]
Die Entführung aus dem Serail: Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln – Blonde [4.00]; Martern aller Arten – Konstanze [8.44]
Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio! K.418 [6.07]
Don Giovanni: Crudele... Non mi dir – Donna Anna [5.07]; In quali eccessi... Mi tradì – Donna Elvira [5.38]
La clemenza di Tito: S’altro che lagrime – Servilia [1.47]; Ecco il punto... Non più di fiori – Vitellia [8.36]
No, che non sei capace K.419 [4.07]
Diana Damrau (soprano)
Le Cercle de l’Harmonie/Jérémie Rhorer
rec. Maison de l’Orchestre National de l’Ile de France, Alfortville, 14-20 January 2008
VIRGIN CLASSICS 2120232 [73.21]
Experience Classicsonline

I was looking forward to reviewing this disc, having been impressed by Diana Damrau when I heard her live as Zerbinetta. Like everyone else, I was wowed by her Queen of the Night on DVD and YouTube, where her rendition of that fiendish aria has had hundreds of thousands of hits. She has since declared that she will no longer be performing that rôle, but, judging by this collection of arias, I wonder if that decision is premature.
 
Undeniably, Damrau is hugely talented (see GF's review of her previous release - Arie di bravura): lapidary precision in coloratura, no hint of shrillness in her top notes, absolute security of intonation, an assured stage presence and considerable personal charms. She has many sterling qualities which combine to make her a gifted singer of the modern type for which productions worldwide cry out. She is, nonetheless, still a relatively young and inexperienced singer. I wonder if she has not allowed herself to be pushed too soon into assuming the grander kind of Mozartian rôles to which her voice is not (yet?) ideally suited. I need to be specific if I am to make my case. I am aware that some will think that I am being unnecessarily harsh. While listening to the majority of the arias she undertakes here, I inevitably found myself comparing her with earlier, favourite artists, as I felt that there was something wanting.
 
Let’s start with Pamina’s aria from “Die Zauberflöte”. I reached for three other versions for the purposes of comparison: one by Gundula Janowitz (a hissy, venerable 1964 recording with Klemperer conducting), one by Barbara Bonney (her 1992 recording on a recital disc), and a third by Barbara Hendricks (the complete 1991 set conducted by Mackerras). These performances vary hugely in speed, ranging from a pacy 2:28 with Mackerras to a leisurely 4:09with Klemperer. Bonney comes in at 3:26, so Damrau’s 3:59 is also quite relaxed. Even so, compared with the Klemperer/Janowitz version it seems to drag and plod; there is little feel for rubato or flexibility of phrasing in Rhorer’s conducting. By comparison, Mackerras (Hendricks) and Östman (Bonney) ought to sound as if they are galloping through the aria. On the contrary, they simply sound natural and unforced; their singers are able to phrase sensitively and project a real personality. Janowitz’s Pamina, in any case, is sung with such heavenly phrasing and tone that we do not notice how long Klemperer takes over it. Nor is it a question of period style versus modern instruments; Östman directs a period band whereas Klemperer has the LPO. Each is equally successful in its own way. I find myself subconsciously disconcerted by Rhorer’s use of “correct” original lower pitch for all the arias in this recording. Once you have heard Janowitz’ float her B flat, Damrau’s equivalent note, pitched somewhere around a quarter tone lower, sounds distinctly flat, being closer to a modern A – but that might not necessarily bother others. Finally, it is a question of quality of voice. All of the other ladies I use for the purposes of comparison, have, to my ears, a greater intrinsic beauty of sound, more individuality of utterance, more variety in tone, dynamics and vocal colouring. Each seems to do a better job bringing Pamina alive and give her what the late “Gramophone” critic Alan Blyth used to call more “face”.
 
It follows naturally that if Damrau is somewhat outshone by her predecessors as Pamina, then it is still less likely that she will be a satisfactory Countess, Donna Anna, Donna Elvira or Vitellia – and so it proves. She simply hasn’t the breadth and heft of voice to sing these deceptively demanding rôles. She can sing all the notes but essentially trills her way through them as if she hasn’t really digested the music. Most of the time, whatever she is singing, she sounds like a Susanna – which, along with her Constanze, the arias from the early operas and the two concert arias, form by far the most successful portion of this recital. Damrau is essentially still a light lyric soprano with a voice too small of scale to rival, say, Renée Fleming, Martina Arroyo or Eleanor Steber in the “grande dame” rôles in Mozart opera. I took down Dame Janet Baker’s assumption of Vitellia to reassure myself that I was not being unfair to Damrau – and there I found the attack, the variety of colour, plaintiveness of phrasing, richness of lower register and, above all, the ability to use coloratura to enhance emotion – all of which are lacking, or present to a lesser degree, in Damrau’s singing of “Non piu di fiori”. She certainly makes it sound easy, but she rarely moves us. Her Donna Anna is young and vulnerable but ultimately forgettable; even when she is singing Susanna, her characterisation pales in comparison with a singer such as Lucia Popp. In truth, I was bored by much of this recital, despite her accomplishment.
 
Le Cercle de l’Harmonie is certainly a talented band. They play with verve, accuracy and technical brilliance but Rohrer seems to favour extremes. They are sometimes driven too hard and at others seem too relaxed.
 
I am reminded of an anecdote from Beverley Sills’ autobiography in which that celebrated singer remarked that she did not think Norma was that difficult a role and that some lines in “Norma” always made her “want to giggle”. This, her stern detractors remarked, explains her lack of proper commitment and gravitas as Norma. I do not say that Damrau is guilty of such flippancy, but I wonder whether she has not fallen into the trap of severely under-estimating the challenge of the grander arias she has undertaken here. She is a major talent but this CD represents, for me, a bridge too far, too soon.
 
Ralph Moore
 



 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.