One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati







Plain text for smartphones
and printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Support us financially by purchasing this disc from:

Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Iolanta -
Opera in one act Op. 69 [124:42]
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Perséphone -
Mélodrame in three acts [56:05]
Iolanta: Iolanta - Ekaterina Scherbachenko (soprano); Vaudémont - Pavel Cernoch (tenor); King René - Dmitry Ulianov (bass); Ibn-Hakia - Willard White (bass); Robert - Alexej Markov (baritone); Bertrand - Pavel Kudinov; Alméric - Vasily Efimov; Marta - Ekaterina Semenchuk; Brigitta - Irina Churilova; Laura - Letitia Singleton
Perséphone: Emolpe - Paul Groves (tenor); Perséphone - Dominique Blanc (actress)
Dancers from Amrita Performing Arts, Cambodia
Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro Real de Madrid/Teodor Currentizis
Peter Sellars (stage director); Georges Tsypin (stage designer)
rec. live, Teatro Real de Madrid, 21, 24 January 2012
subtitles in English, Spanish, French, German and Italian
Audio - Dolby digital and Dolby digital 5.1; NTSC; all regions
TEATRO REAL TR97011 [187:00] 

Experience Classicsonline

Iolanta and Perséphone are amongst their composers’ best works but both have been comparatively neglected. It is good to have them linked here. The former was first performed in 1892 as half of a splendid and generous double bill with The Nutcracker. It has been revived in that form in recent years by Opera North and I have vivid and fond memories of that version. It does make for a long evening but the sheer richness and variety of invention in both works makes it very worthwhile. Iolanta is particularly noteworthy for the subtlety of its scoring and, despite what is said by some critics, its memorable writing. It is extraordinary that it is rarely so performed, at least in Britain. The singing in the present performance is admirable throughout, with idiomatic Russian singing but without the apparent wobble which can put off some non-Russian listeners. Match this with full-blooded playing from the Teatro Real orchestra. The production by Peter Sellars is generally clear although sometimes confused by a bizarre choice of camera angle or subject. I found the scenery, such as it is, merely confusing and uninteresting. It concerned me that there was no feeling of a place cut off from the rest of the world, in which the main male characters apart from the King are invited or uninvited visitors. Overall I found myself looking back with regret to the several more conventional productions that I have seen - including the first British performance which took place as late as 1968. One real oddity - unjustified liberty one might argue - is the inclusion just before the end of an unaccompanied Cherubic Hymn by Tchaikovsky. This is not mentioned in the booklet and as far as I am aware does not appear in any score of the opera nor was its inclusion sanctioned by the composer. Whilst it is unquestionably a beautiful piece and very fervently sung when included here it has a fatally delaying effect on what should be the climax of the opera.
Although Perséphone was intended for the stage it is more often heard in the concert hall - when it is heard at all. It was commissioned by the dancer Ida Rubinstein, who spoke Gide’s text as well as danced, and is a work of transparent beauty and delicacy. Musically this is well realised, with Teodor Currentzis again showing his ability to inspire subtle phrasing and balance from the orchestra. A separate group of dancers representing the main characters is added, all from Cambodia and using the traditional Cambodian style of dance which Pol Pot had attempted wholly to eradicate from that country. Its subtlety and stylised manner suits this work very well and Peter Sellars has matched the underlying character of the work much better than is the case with Iolanta.
This is a generous coupling of two masterpieces and although I have serious reservations about the production of Iolanta I still enjoyed and was moved by this performance; even more so by that of Perséphone. It would have been helpful to have included proper historical notes and a synopsis for each in addition to the producer’s interesting but not wholly helpful comments. A bonus feature comprises simply an unchallenged statement of the producer’s views. Despite this there is plenty here to enjoy, relish even, and rival versions, especially of the Stravinsky, are not thick on the ground.  

John Sheppard

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from:































































































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


      Composer surveys
      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

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


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

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



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

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
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
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
Web Ring
Translation Service

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

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.