Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

AmazonUK AmazonUS


René Pape - Gods, Kings & Demons
Charles GOUNOD (1818 – 1893)
1. Le veau d’or est toujours debout [1:58]
2. Sérénade: Vous qui faites l’endormie [2:42]
Arrigo BOITO (1842 – 1918)
3. Ballata: Ecco il mondo, vuoto e tondo [2:19]
Hector BERLIOZ (1803 – 1869)
La damnation de Faust
4. Voici des roses [2:47]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813 – 1901)
Don Carlo
5. Ella giammai m’amo … Dormiro sol [10:30]
Jacques OFFENBACH (1819 – 1880)
Les Contes d’Hoffmann
6. Scintille, diamant [2:40]
Richard WAGNER (1813 – 1883)
Das Rheingold
7. Abendlich strahlt der Sonne Auge [3:55]
Tristan und Isolde
8. Tatest du’s wirklich? Wähnst du das? [13:31]
Anton RUBINSTEIN (1829 – 1894)
9. Na vozdušnom okeane [4:58]
10. Ne plač’, ditya [2:39]
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841 – 1904)
11. Běda! Běda! … Celý svět nedá ti [5:29]
Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839 – 1881)
Boris Godunov
12. Oy, dušno, dušno! … Proščay, moy sin [10:34]
René Pape (bass); Carl-Johann Winkler (treble) (12);
Staatsopernchor Dresden
Staatskapelle Dresden/Sebastian Weigle
rec. Lukaskirche, Dresden, February 2008
Texts and translations enclosed


Experience Classicsonline

Though still only in his early forties René Pape has been a leading bass for two decades. He made his stage debut at the Berliner Staatsoper in 1988 becoming the youngest ever Sarastro at Salzburg in 1991 at the age of 26. He has taken part in numerous recordings but this is his first solo recital. Basses rarely get opportunities to create lovers on the operatic stage but besides crooks of different kinds – Sparafucile in Rigoletto for instance – and comical characters – Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail – they are designated Gods, Kings and Demons – Demons being super-human crooks as opposed to more earthbound ones like Sparafucile.  One aim for Pape with this programme was also ‘a little bit educational’: to show people ‘that sopranos and tenors don’t have the monopoly on beautiful arias’.

All of the chosen scenes and arias are not primarily beautiful but several are: Méphistophélès’s serenade from Faust, in spite of its mocking laughter, the same character’s aria from La Damnation de Faust and the two rarities from Rubinstein’s Demon, which should be hits on any recital. The Waterspirit’s aria from Rusalka is possibly even more beautiful and Dapertutto’s – another Demon in human disguise – Scintille, diamante has long been a favourite, often played on the radio in my youth, even in ‘popular programmes’ as they were called.

It seems that René Pape is more naturally attuned to kings and gods than to demons – I was slightly disappointed in his Le veau d’or from Faust. There is nothing wrong with his singing; on the contrary the very first notes tell us that here is a voice of exceptional beauty and evenness, easily produced and rising effortlessly up to the highest notes. It is not the largest bass voice one can hear, nor is it the deepest - the sound is more baritone than bass. I would rather classify him as a bass-baritone like José Van Dam or Ruggero Raimondi. What I found lacking in his reading was that all-embracing malevolence that permeates the singing of a Boris Christoff or Evgeny Nesterenko – but neither of them can match Pape for pure singing. And he quickly makes amends with marvellous legato singing and a diabolic laughter in the serenade. With three devils in a row we can compare different grades of Satanism. Boito’s Mefistofele is truly abominable when he ‘hoodwinks the churls´, those who believe he is a fiction. Here Pape is more threatening, while he is superbly lyrical in the Berlioz aria, where Van Dam has for long been my benchmark.

When he takes the leap from ruler in Hell to this potentate’s once proxy on earth, the Spanish King Filippo, he makes him a very human and vulnerable person. Avoiding the histrionics he sings with restraint but great intensity. This is a superb reading and I regret I wasn’t able to see him in this role in Oslo earlier this autumn.

Back in the satanic sphere he sings a splendid Scintille, diamante before he is elevated to Valhalla and presents Wotan as a bel canto god, noble and youthful.

When I reviewed the Glyndebourne Tristan on DVD less than a year my only objection against Pape’s Marke was that he sounded too youthful. This didn’t disturb me on this recital – on the contrary he only sounds warm and human in his anger, disappointment and sorrow. He certainly belongs among the greatest interpreters of the role on disc, in company with Kurt Moll, Martti Talvela, Matti Salminen and Hans Sotin.

In the two Rubinstein arias he confirms that his is the probably most beautiful bass voice currently before the public. This is marvellous singing without any signs of strain even at the powerful climax in the second aria. The same dramatic intensity characterises the Rusalka aria, which I am going to return to many times in the future.

In the final number he is back on an earthly throne again and depicts that other great operatic autocrat in the same vein as Filippo: inward and recessed but with deep involvement and expression. He reminds me a little of my first Boris Godunov on records, the Finnish bel canto bass Kim Borg. Carl-Johann Winkler, member of Dresdner Kreuzchor, sings Fyodor’s brief part rather well.

Sebastian Weigle is rapidly becoming an eminent recording conductor and his flexible conducting of the superb Staatskapelle Dresden – and in two numbers Staatsopernchor Dresden – is a further feather in his cap. The recording can’t be faulted. The booklet has texts and translations and an essay on René Pape but no notes on the music, which is a pity considering that there are some of the numbers here are off the beaten track.

Just a few months ago I reviewed the bass Erwin Schrott’s debut recital on the same label in very positive terms. Here Deutsche Grammophon have come up with another outright winner.

Göran Forsling 




Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount




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


      Composer surveys
      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

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


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

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



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

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
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
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
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.