The recent performances
of these very two works at the Barbican
with Mariinsky forces rather takes the
edge off the enthusiasm this review
might otherwise have exuded.
These are reissues
of Koch material, and are packaged in
rather a strange way. Perhaps careless
is the word I'm after. Texts and
translations are included although the
English narrator of Oedipus does
not always read out exactly what is
printed. The notes are by Robert Craft.
There is no indication as to who sings
what in which piece, leaving one to
work out the roles for oneself.
The performances themselves
are more than adequate, less than inspired.
The recording is good, however, handling
the climaxes with ease.
One of the major problems
of this Oedipus is that the chorus,
far from sounding monumental in a 'neutral'
language (Latin), just sounds English.
The choral cries of 'Serva nos' ('Show
us') are convincing, but overall the
Simon Joly Male Chorus is average ...
certainly in comparison with Gergiev's
forces. The cries of 'Salve Tiresia!
Salve!' are merely half-hearted.
Jennifer Lane is a
very un-Russian Jocasta, as her aria,
'Nonne erubescite, reges,' demonstrates
to a tee. She is better in her later
duet with Oedipus, but her lower register
The close of the work
is fairly exciting but does not fully
convey the heart-rending conflicting
Les Noces sung
in Russian, fares better even if the
booklet seems to think we go back to
track 1 here, whereas it actually it
begins at track 7. Alison Wells' Bride
has a lovely sound. There is a slight
sluggishness throughout though, perhaps
because rhythms are not as razor-tight
as they have to be in this work.
There is some - to
me - off-putting close-miking of voices,
although the recording does pick up
the punchiness of the excellent percussion.
The parents' lament in Scene 2 works
well, and there is some nice pointing
of rhythms as the singers invoke St
Luke to bless the marriage later in
the same scene.
The recording allows
for good definition of the various vocal
groups in the brief third scene - a
mere three minutes long - and it similarly
separates the strands of the complex
final scene well. The bass solo right
at the end is very beautiful (from 'Akh
Very mixed reactions
to this disc, then.
see also review
by Gwyn Parry Jones