Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:


Richard WAGNER
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Fanget an!; Am stillen Herd; Morgenlich leuchtend.
Die Walküre -
Ein Schwert verliess mir den Vater; Dich selige Frau; Winterstürme; Siegmund heiss'ich.
Parsifal -
Anfortas! Diw Wunde!l; Nur eine Waffe taugt.
Tannhaüser -
Hör an, Wolfram! Hör an!.
Rienzi -
Allmächt'ger Vater.
Lohengrin -
Höchtes Vertrau'n; In fernem Land; Mein lieber Schwan!.
Robert Dean Smith (tenor);
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bratislava/Ivan Anguélov
Recorded December 8th-13th, 2000, Slovak Radio Concert Hall, Bratislava.
ARTE NOVA VOICES 74321 81176-2 [DDD] [76.49]
  AmazonUK   AmazonUS  Amazon recommendations

Robert Dean Smith is due to sing the role of Siegmund in Walküre at Bayreuth this year, according to his biography, where he will also take on Walther von Stolzing and Lohengrin (he made his debut there in 1997 as Walther). This disc should act as an indicator of his talents, and what is revealed is a generally intelligent singer, not blessed with either earth-shattering beauty of tone or great insight. Smith is of generally lyric bent. His legato is smooth and his sound pleasing (all three of the Meistersinger excerpts confirm this), and he is capable of generating a certain amount of voltage when required. However it has to be said that the Bratislava orchestra's contribution under Anguélov is distinctly under-powered and seems almost at times to sabotage Smith's efforts. The most blatant example of this is Siegmund's cries of 'Nothung' in Act One of Walküre, where tension drops just at the critical moment: similarly, the orchestra damps the elation of the revelation of Siegmund's name, a turning point in the act.

Another name-revealing casualty comes in the Lohengrin excerpts. The moment Lohengrin owns up to his own name is of cataclysmic importance to this piece: here its consequence is cruelly belittled.

Any singer in any opera has to convince the audience that he/she is actually feeling the emotions the composer/librettist is describing at any given time. Thus, when Parsifal seems to feel Amfortas' wound in the Seduction Scene from Act Two of that music-drama, the listener should be able to envisage the pain-transferrence. Far from it: here it is hard to believe that this Parsifal is anything more than even mildly hurt.

There seems little point in recommending this recital in any way, as the record catalogues are littered with accounts of this wonderful music which really do remind us that Wagner is one of the greatest composers that ever lived (arguably second only to Beethoven). Smith and Anguélov seem to set out to deny this.

Colin Clarke

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months
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.This is the only part of MusicWeb for which you will have to register.

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: