One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati








Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Il Barbiere di Siviglia (1816)
Rosina - Agnes Baltsa (mezzo)
Figaro - Thomas Allen (baritone)
Almaviva - Francisco Araiza (tenor)
Basilio - Robert Lloyd (bass)
Bartolo - Domenico Trimarchi (baritone)
Berta - Sally Burgess (mezzo)
Fiorello - Matthew Best (bass-baritone)
Un ufficiale - John Noble (baritone)
Ambrosia Opera Chorus/John McCarthy
Academy of St Martin in the Fields/Neville Marriner
rec. Watford Town Hall, June 1982.
DECCA 478 2497 [68:49 + 79.19]

Experience Classicsonline

This recording presents two debuts: Marriner as an opera conductor and Francisco Araiza’s first full operatic role on disc. The former is an unqualified success, the second more debatable. I have never warmed to Araiza’s rather nasal, throttled tone; it is somewhat grating and immediately contrasts oddly with the plummy, muffled vocal production of Matthew Best’s Fiorello. Nor will Araiza’s aspirated divisions please purists who become exercised over such things; Lawrence Brownlee in the more recent Sony set is a far neater and conventionally elegant singer with a much mellower, more ingratiating sound.
Agnes Baltsa is a rather ferocious Rosina, long on vocal athleticism with an impressive range but a little short on charm - and she too aspirates her runs more here than in her Rossini recital discs. Thomas Allen is not ideally refulgent of voice as Figaro - I like a Stracciari, a Gobbi or at least a more resonant Italianate sound - but his energy is infectious. His frequent use of mezza voce and falsetto contributes to a light, nuanced, mercurial account - less of an overbearing self-publicist than some singers make the barber out to be. He is fleet and agile, taking top note options and verbally he is extraordinarily varied and fluent - with impeccable Italian. Figaro’s banter with Rosina is as sharp and as wittily inflected as any I have heard and there is always a sense of interplay between characters. Marriner’s direction is impeccable: sappy, sprung and alive; the ASMF sound as though they are having fun and although the sense of theatricality is not as pronounced here as it is in the widely praised, super-budget Naxos set, it is still one of the least studio-bound I know and the Act One finale in particular exhibits special joie de vivre.
Robert Lloyd is a terrific Basilio; he is not afraid of distorting his beautiful bass for comic effect and vivdly creates an aural picture of the seedy old sponger. He really relishes the role and like all the cast here, seems completely at home in the quickfire patter. The intrinsic quality of his enormous bass rather shows up Trimarchi’s thin, wobbly sound, but the latter is a seasoned buffo campaigner and camps it up splendidly. Sally Burgess is a characterful Berta.
Despite its many virtues, this set does not inspire in me the same admiration and affection as it does in some commentators and for sheer vocal personality my first loyalties still lie with the famous (but cut) Callas-Gobbi version. As a theatrical experience I rate this Marriner set highly but also enjoy very much the Humburg set on Naxos and also the fleet, youthful Sony recording conducted by Miguel Gomez-Martinez with Nathan Gunn, Lawrence Brownlee and a rather ordinary Elina Garanca, who is outshone by Baltsa.
This 2 CD set is one of a new series of bargain issues by Decca in crude, 1960s pop-art style in hideous, acidic colours. Despite their appearance, they are very good value, even if there is no libretto.
Ralph Moore 































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

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.