£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


BUY NOW 

Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
Les Nuits d’été, op.7*: 1. Villanelle [02:16], 2. Le Spectre de la rose [06:25], 3. Sur les lagunes [06:37], 4. Absence [05:15], 5. Au cimetière [06:10], 6. L’île inconnue [03:57]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Pelléas et Mélisande, op.80: Prélude [06:25], Fileuse [02:35], Sicilienne [04:10], Death of Mélisande [04:58]
Elly Ameling (soprano)*
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra/Robert Shaw
Recorded on March 21st 1983 and May 10th 1985 in the Symphony Hall, Atlanta
TELARC CD 80084 [49:34]



 

In 1983 Elly Ameling was 49 and had been performing for nearly thirty years. There are some singers whose careers have continued far longer than this (Maggie Teyte was 52 when she recorded two of these Berlioz songs), but voices age differently. There are still some lovely sounds here but there is also a slight unsteadiness which increases when under pressure. It’s a rather awkward point in a singer’s career; with so much that is still lovely, her best friends would have been hard put to whisper in her ear that it would be time to retire, yet those of us for whom she was one of the best-loved Bach singers and lieder singers of the 1960s and 1970s can only hanker after the days when all was perfect.

All the same, I don’t know if even then she would have been the ideal singer for “Nuits d’été”. Of course, it’s in the nature of the cycle that any one singer will be more suited to some songs than others (Colin Davis famously made a recording with four voices, which is what Berlioz actually intended). “Villanelle” would have been ideal for her, and it still gets the cycle off to a charming start. But, if we are to hear the work from just one singer, surely we require a singer with the darkness of tone and the dramatic weight for the more significant later songs, even if such a singer would be a shade heavy for “Villanelle”. It would also help to have a more involved contribution from the orchestra than Robert Shaw’s laid-back professionalism provides.

Such a conducting style might seem more at home in Fauré, and indeed, there is much attractive shading, but the famous “Sicilienne” is very sluggish indeed. In any case, an interpretative manner which blandly fails to differentiate between two such different composers does no favour to either.

All things considered, a recording which captures a much-loved singer at a late stage of her career in a work mostly unsuited to her, with uninspiring orchestral support, might have been better left in the vaults. A fair enough bargain reissue, you might say. Well, since critics don’t pay for their records I’m not quite sure what this costs, but I presume that for a little more than half the price of a top-price CD you get a little more than half the length of many such, so where is the bargain? The total timing, by the way, is nowhere mentioned on the cover or the booklet, though the timings of the individual pieces are, if suspicious listeners can be troubled to add them up before purchasing.

There are notes in English, texts and translations. For this relief much thanks.

Christopher Howell

 



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

 

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable Arcodiva
British Music Soc.
CDAccord
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter


Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter

Return to 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.