I wouldn’t normally recommend CD buyers to take
notice of the press quotes
that accompany new releases, but I’m prepared to make an exception for
this one, sporting as it does an encomium from no less an authority than MusicWeb
International on the back of the case. The quote is taken from a review
Robert J. Farr of the DVD release of the same production and reads ‘Daniele
Callegari gives Verdi’s creation its full due, matching the differing styles
of the later and earlier music to give a cohesive whole’. I am happy to
endorse that opinion with regard to the CD release, indeed the stylistic sympathy
of the performers for the various aspects of Verdi’s art is the recording’s
greatest strength. Farr’s point refers to the fact that the version of
the score used in the production is the 1865 revision (sung in Italian), in which
the 1847 original is supplemented with music of Verdi’s later style. He
is right that Callegari maintains impressive dramatic and musical continuity
in spite of these revisions.
Although a number of the cast are from Eastern Europe, this is distinctively
Italian Verdi interpretation. From the point of view of the singing, the main
benefit is consistently clear diction, while the main disadvantage (at least
for me) is the continuous, heavy vibrato. Giuseppe Altomare, in the title role,
was apparently a late addition to the cast, but you wouldn’t know. His
voice is rich and characterful, although his intonation is a little shaky towards
the top. He has a good range of colours and emotions, and in the absence of visuals,
it is his performance that keeps the drama alive in the sound recording. Olha
Zhuravel, as Lady Macbeth, is the most vibrato-laden of the soloists, which is
not to my taste, although Verdi himself would have been unlikely to complain.
In fact, the vibrato gives her voice impressive projection and, when required,
a menacing intensity. Pavel Kudinov and Rubens Pelizzari give similarly convincing
performances as Banco and Macduff respectively, the former with a noble, rich
tone, the latter slighter lighter and more guttural, and both articulating the
words with welcome clarity.
There is a certain amount of stage noise in the first act, which is not unduly
distracting, but gives a tantalising suggestion of the visuals we are missing.
Otherwise, the sound quality is of a very high standard. After having heard the
recording, I was surprised to read that it was made in an outdoor arena with
a very large stage, as neither of these factors has impinged on the audio quality.
The balance between stage and pit is finely judged throughout and the clarity
of the orchestra sound is impressive, although there is a slight tendency for
the percussion to sound distant. The Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana sound
distinctively Italian, and the light brass sound gives an internal balance within
the orchestra that is easily lost with larger instruments in this country. The
chorus, Coro Lirico Marchigiano ‘V. Bellini’ also deserve a mention.
Again, there is more vibrato in the ladies’ voices than I would like, but
the intonation and ensemble are excellent.
The presentation of the CD is to the usual serviceable, if not exceptional, Naxos
standards. There is no libretto and even the linked webpage
only the Italian. But the few stills from the production give the impression
of a visual spectacle that was fully the equal of the musical drama presented
here. All in all, this is a good ensemble performance, and if none of the soloists
really excel, that is a testament to the high musical standards of the overall
production. It is not the best recording of Macbeth out there, but it certainly
does Verdi’s score full justice, and is worth considerably more than its
diminutive price tag.
see also review of DVD version (2.110258) by Robert