One of the most grown-up review sites around

52,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!
£11 post-free

we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


with Eggebrecht we get all the excitement we can handle

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

absolutely thrilling

immediacy and spontaneity

Schumann Lieder

24 Preludes
one of the finest piano discs

‘Box of Delights.’

J S Bach A New Angle
Organ fans form an orderly queue

a most welcome issue

I enjoyed it tremendously

the finest traditions of the house

music for theorbo
old and new

John Luther Adams
Become Desert
concealing a terrifying message

ground-breaking, winning release

screams quality

Surprise of the month

English Coronation, 1902-1953
magnificent achievement

Plain text for smartphones & printers

We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

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
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Daniel Francois Esprit AUBER (1782-1871)
La Muette de Portici - Opera in 5 acts (1820) [135:09]
Oscar de la Torre (tenor) - Alphonse
Angelina Ruzzafante (soprano) - Elvire
Angus Wood (tenor) - - Lorenzo
Ulf Paulsen (baritone) - Selva
Anne Weinkauf (mezzo) - Eine Holdame
Diego Torre (tenor) - Masaniello
Wiard Witholt (bass) - Pietro
Kostadin Arguirov (baritone) - Borella
Stephan Biener (bass) - Moreno
Opernchor des Anhaltischen Theaters
Anhaltische Philharmonie/Anthony Hermus
rec. 24-26 May 2011, Großes Haus des Anhaltischen Theaters, Dessau, Germany
CPO 777 694-2 [65:47 + 69:32]

This important French opera, the pinnacle of Auber’s success, has only received one previous recording. This was conducted by Thomas Fulton on EMI Classics (777 7492842, 1986) with Monte Carlo forces and a solo roster that included John Aler, June Anderson, Alain Munier and Alfredo Kraus. Collectors of Auber will know it well.
This new recording is superior in many respects and is welcome for revealing an extra dimension to Auber. The EMI recording tends to accentuate Auber’s rompy style and at times comes across as rushed. Hermus’s version tends to tease out some previously unobserved detail. There is more sensitivity to the flow of the score, with greater attention shown to dynamics both in the singing and playing. The powerful chorus - of more singers than usual - is supported by an excellent acoustic.
Those unfamiliar with this opera will probably be aware of its overture sometimes entitled, Masaniello - the title is taken from one of the characters. Here, the overture is by far the best recording of the three I have heard and provides the right footing on which to consider the music of the succeeding five acts.
The strong cast is led by the famous Mexican singer, Diego Torre (Masaniello). He is a vibrant and strong tenor, whose power nicely fits his brave fisherman image. His wide register and fine tone lifts the energy of the combat scene in Act V. Angelina Ruzzafante (Elvire) is a confident soprano who sings with delicacy in her main aria, 'Plaisir du rang suprệme' with its ting coloratura. Oscar de la Torre as Alphonse holds our attention with gusto in the first act where preparations for the approaching wedding with Elvire are taking place. Later he and Elvire sing admirably in the duet, 'N'espérez pas me fuir'. Wiard Witholt, a resonantly rich bass, makes an appropriately fiery Pietro and nicely widens the spectrum of ensemble singing in the third and fifth acts.
Despite the elegant sound and acoustics there is a slight problem of balance. There are times when the busy strings are severely recessed, particularly in the Act I finale where the excellent chorus is placed too far forward for us to hear orchestral detail. Again, in certain numbers the brass tends to swamp the wind section. Generally these are minor criticisms that for me do not detract from enjoyment of the music as a whole.
Anthony Hermus has given the listener a sensitive reading of Auber's score with admirable playing from the Anhaltische Philharmonie. It is a great pity that the short, yet charming, ballet has been omitted, presumably because it was deemed inappropriate for the stage production. However with a recording planned from the outset it would not have caused much difficulty to add it for completeness sake. After all, no French opera of the 19th century would have been staged without a ballet.
In this continental recording the 84 page booklet provides good background notes by Heribert Germeshausen and Sophie Walz, along with artist biographies in German, French and English. There’s also a full libretto but in French only; no translations.
Raymond J Walker