Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

 


New App by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra for iOS and Android!


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

REVIEW



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
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 

alternatively
CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Georges BIZET (1838 – 1875)
Carmen (1875)
Marina Domashenko (mezzo) – Carmen; Andrea Bocelli (tenor) – Don José; Eva Mei (soprano) – Micaela; Bryn Terfel (bass-baritone) – Escamillo; Thierry Felix (bass) – Zuniga; Jean-Luc Ballestra (baritone) – Morales; Magali Léger (soprano) – Frasquita; Delphine Haidan (mezzo) – Mercédes; Olivier Lallouette (baritone) – Le Dancaire; Alain Gabriel (tenor) – Le Remendado;
Choeur de Radio France, Maîtrise de Radio France
Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France/Myung-Whun Chung
rec. Salle Messiaen, Radio France, 26 June–2 July, 24 October 2005
Libretto with English and German translations enclosed
DECCA 475 7646 [62:56 + 76:14]

Experience Classicsonline

Any new recording of Carmen is up against stiff competition and in so crowded a field it is often difficult to pick a clear winner. There are so many factors that contribute to one’s final verdict and personal preferences play their part.

With Carmen we have the question of what version it is. Nowadays the one with Guiraud’s recitatives that was prepared after Bizet’s death for the Vienna premiere, is largely out of vogue, even though some stages, notably the Metropolitan in New York, stick to it. The present recording follows the Choudens edition with spoken dialogue but with three numbers from the Schott version. Most important of those is the duel duet from act three which is much longer and dramatically makes more sense. Otherwise it is a fairly middle-of-the-road version with the spoken dialogue rather curtailed – no great loss, I think. It keeps the drama on the go.

It’s a distinct advantage to have a French chorus and orchestra. The secondary roles are also cast with native speakers. This lends authenticity as it also does to the classic Beecham recording. On the other hand Abbado’s DG recording, based on the famous Edinburgh production from the late 1970s, has British forces and comprimarios and it ranks with the best. But there is no denying that the smugglers’ quintet and the card scene gain by being sung in the actors’ mother-tongue. And the first solo voice we hear, corporal Morales, immediately makes us feel at home in the idiom. Jean-Luc Ballestra has a very French timbre.

Myung-Whun Chung, though no Frenchman, has a good grip on the proceedings, chooses sensible tempos throughout and creates a translucent sound picture. Bizet’s exquisite scoring is well illuminated. He also has a nice feel for the rhythms: the opening to act III is springy and arouses enthusiasm. The chorus and orchestra are good without being able to erase memories of the Abbado recording – or Beecham’s from fifty years back. No, not quite. As can be seen from the header the present recording was made in 2005 and one must wonder why it has had to wait in the archives for so long. Are there any serious hang-ups?

Well, to my ears the sound is a bit aggressive and there are even signs of overload in a couple of places. Nothing serious but when listening through headphones I was a little startled. But this doesn’t rule out the performance.

When it comes to the singing of the principals I was not wholly satisfied. Thierry Felix is an uncharacteristically weak and lyrical Zuniga. He should be a formidable character but here he almost apologizes for his presence and his spoken dialogue is lifeless – it seems he is just reading his lines from the score. Frasquita and Mercedes are his very opposite: involved, expressive and with distinctive voices.

Eva Mei has the right glittering timbre for Micaela but her vibrato has widened and the voice seems heavier than the ideal. She is however varied and nuanced in the first act duet and sings with great warmth in her aria in act III.

I am a great admirer of Bryn Terfel but I won’t pretend that he is an ideal Escamillo. His voice is decidedly more Germanic than French-sounding. The toreador song lacks the grandeur and flair of, say, Tom Krause, who recorded it twice – for Schippers and Bernstein – and who has become my touchstone. Terfel has a lot of charming nuances and in the duel scene he shows his dramatic mettle, while in the short confrontation with Carmen in the last act he caresses Si tu m’aimes, Carmen convincingly. I must admit, though, that I still have yet to hear a bass-baritone singing it more enchantingly than Heinz Rehfuss on my old Concert Hall recording.

The star of this recording is supposed to be Andrea Bocelli, though I think it’s perverse to highlight his name in comparatively gigantic capital letters on the front cover, while Marina Domashenko’s is reduced to lower-case letters. His first appearance isn’t too promising. In the duet with Micaela he sings at forte all the time – though admittedly with glorious tone and he does end it stylishly at pianissimo.

He grows in the second act and sings the flower song sensitively, but the very close recording lends an aggressive edge to the voice. The tone is still monochrome but he is certainly involved and sings with a glow that could be compared to Pavarotti’s in his early days. Best of all, without doubt, is the final duet where he grows to heroic proportions, from a restrained, very human opening to an impassioned and finally utterly desperate character. Domingo and Gedda in their respective ways are still unsurpassed but Bocelli’s is a worthy reading.

More than that is Marina Domashenko’s assumption of the title role. Her habanera is alluring and sexy, even more so in the scene that precedes the seguidilla and the seguidilla itself. This is a Carmen that lives every second of her role and her dark and grand voice makes her a formidable gypsy. It seems that Bocelli is inspired by her and sings with fresher voice than ever before. The gypsy song in act II is again very alive and in the duet in the same act her dark feelings come to the fore. This is further underlined in the card scene, where she pronounces Carreau! Pique! with chilling accuracy. She already knows her fate. In the final act she is defiant and dominating, spitting out her Tiens! when she throws the ring at Don José. Victoria de los Angeles and Teresa Berganza have made subtler readings of the role and Callas is maybe even more formidable, but Domashenko is more than worthy to be in their company and is the possessor of a magnificent voice, even throughout the register and of great beauty.

Marina Domashenko requires to be heard in this role and though this recording as a total experience doesn’t sweep the field it has a lot to recommend it.

Göran Forsling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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






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.