£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    



CD REVIEW

Some items
to consider


Shostakovich 14 Petrenko


Rachmaninov #3
Prokofiev #2

 


Dunedin Consort

Peter Grimes

Hymn of Jesus: Sea Drift

Complete Mozart Edition
Mozart complete edition

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 5 & 8 £11

Weiner, Klepper, Bloch, Schulhoff £12 post free


Available again

alternatively
CD: Crotchet AmazonUK AmazonUS

 

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Ariodante, HWV33 (1734)
Ariodante - Ann Murray (mezzo); Ginevra - Joan Rodgers (soprano); Lurcanio - Paul Nilon (tenor); Polinesso - Christopher Robson (counter-tenor); Dalinda - Julie Kaufmann (soprano); The King of Scotland - Umberto Chiummo (bass); Odoardo - James Anderson (tenor)
Bavarian State Opera Chorus and Orchestra/Ivor Bolton
rec. January, 2000, Bavarian National Opera.  DDD.
Booklet with notes, texts and translations
FARAO CLASSICS B108030 [3 CDs: 63:27 + 63.33 + 53:09]
Experience Classicsonline

This version of Ariodante seems to have been released as long ago as 2000, soon after it was recorded, deleted and now reissued.  If the deletion was due to poor initial sales, I hope that its reappearance will remedy the problem: this version has a great deal going for it.
 
There is a considerable overlap of personnel between this Bavarian production of 2000 and that of the English National Opera in 1996 – Ann Murray, Joan Rodgers, Christopher Robson and the conductor, Ivor Bolton, also feature on that earlier production, available on DVD (Arthaus Musik 100 064).  One reviewer called this ENO production ‘Handel comme il faut’.  That comment is equally true of this reissued Farao recording, but, bearing in mind that the DVD set is actually likely to cost you less than the new CDs, those who like to see as well as hear opera will doubtless go for those well-regarded Arthaus DVDs or the Dynamic DVDs which my colleague RMcK recently made Recording of the Month (33559 – see review).
 
The English National Opera revival of their production in June, 2006, was broadcast on BBC Radio 3; I have listened to the recording which I made of that broadcast with great pleasure.  Though much less well known than Nicholas McGegan, who directed an earlier ENO revival and also recorded the opera for Harmonia Mundi (HMU90 7146.78, highlights on HMU90 7277), Christopher Moulds presided over a well-considered performance, with Alice Coote in the title role and Rebecca Evans as Ginevra.  One notices from the outset the slightly faster tempo of Ivor Bolton’s version of the Overture, which nevertheless does not oust Moulds’ account from my affections.
 
In fact, though Bolton is faster, the playing of the Bavarian State Opera Orchestra actually sounds slightly heavier at first – this is no chamber group.  Not that there is a great deal in it – both sets of players, though employing modern instruments, effectively capture a truly Handelian style.  In neither version is the continuo particularly audible, which is better than having a massive close-miked harpsichord, but not ideal.
 
Bolton maintains slightly faster tempi throughout the opera, especially in Acts II and III.  Less able singers might sometimes sound rushed at these marginally fleeter speeds, but all involved here sing well enough for this not to be a serious problem.  Just occasionally I felt that the singers would have preferred a slightly more sedate pace.  The second and third acts each take five minutes shorter in all than the ENO/Moulds account, probably because the cast by then found themselves much more in accord with the direction, allowing Bolton to move at his ideal pace.
 
Allowing for the vagaries of live performance, all concerned acquit themselves well.  I had no complaints about the ENO singers, but the Bavarian cast has a slight edge.  After a slightly hesitant start Ann Murray is superb – just listen to her account of Scherza infida in grembo al drudo (CD2, tr.5) to be won over.  Christopher Robson is about as effective and villainous a Polinesso as a counter-tenor can be; most would probably prefer Patricia Bardon’s mezzo account of the role for ENO.  The only common factor between London and Bavaria is Paul Nilon’s account of Lurcanio; he sings very well on both versions.
 
I recently praised the musical content of Ivor Bolton’s Rodelinda highly, though castigating some of the more crass aspects of the production – see review; those musical virtues are again in evidence here – and, paradoxically, the photographs from the production contained in the booklet suggest that the (unseen) production was much more to the point than that of Rodelinda.  In fact, I understand that David Alden’s ENO/Welsh Opera production was employed for the Munich performances.  Paradoxically, therefore, whereas I now play the Rodelinda as sound-only, via my audio system, I find myself wishing that Farao had released Ariodante on DVD, if only to help unravel some of the complexities of the plot.  The well-paced performance and the quality of the performers, together with the assistance in the booklet, does help, but it would have been nice to have seen the action.
 
The booklet offers David Alden’s raison d’être for his production, offering a view of the opera which may raise a few hackles – I note that one reviewer in 2000 was more than a little mystified by it.  The recorded sound is good – if anything, slightly better than the BBC broadcast of the ENO performance.   Neither can match the balance of a studio event: the Farao is a little too close for my liking, but a slight reduction in volume is all that is needed.  It’s a small price to pay, in my opinion, for the extra excitement of a live performance.
 
The recording comes in a conventional 3-CD jewel box, with the booklet fitting into a recess in the box.  The outer slipcase is, therefore redundant – the only point of such a case would be to house a booklet too large to fit inside the jewel case or to keep three separate CDs together – it’s likely to get scuffed and torn in short order.
 
I shall play this version more often than the ENO, but I must point out that the classic Janet Baker and Raymond Leppard set remains available on two Philips reissues – that on Trio 473 9552 is the cheaper.  Janet Baker is one of those special singers whom I would happily hear in a rendition of the phone book. Her Handel is extra-special because I remember her wonderful performance in Orlando at Sadler’s Wells over forty years ago. However fans of the authentic will find Leppard’s direction more dated than Bolton’s.  I’ve even seen Leppard’s direction described as ‘stuffy’ by comparison with modern preferences.
 
You’d need to be a bigoted purist not to like this version, but lovers of authenticity will be better served by the McGegan version to which I have referred above, with Lorraine Hunt in the title role, or by Mark Minkowski with Anne Sofie von Otter on DG Archiv (457 271-2).  I can’t claim that this Farao reissue is quite in the category of the Baker/Leppard, the Hunt/McGegan or the von Otter/Minkowski but it is certainly good enough to be mentioned in the same sentence.
 
Brian Wilson
 

 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
CDAccord
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

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

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      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

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

Nostalgia

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

Comment
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

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
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
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
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
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

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




Return to Review 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.