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


CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

New Year’s Concert 2006 from the Teatro La Fenice, Venice
Performance details below review
Picture format: 4:3, Sound: PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1. Region Code 0 (NTSC)
Subtitles: NONE
Booklet: English, French, Italian, German
rec. live, Teatro La Fenice, Venice, 1 January 2006
ARTHAUS MUSIK 107283 [55.00]

Experience Classicsonline

Despite the programme’s seemingly random selection, the liner-notes tell us that since Italy does not have a “Johann Strauss” composer, Maestro Masur took it upon himself to choose a program to allow “astonished listeners to discover just how many waltz rhythms in 3/4 and 3/8 time may be found in 19th-century operas, even if those rhythms are sometimes concealed or obscured.” Perhaps if I had read the notes before playing the DVD, this would have drawn more of my attention, but I cannot say it stood out for me. Nor did I see any sign of astonishment on the faces of audience members; the few times the camera panned to their faces, they tended to look rather disengaged. However, I very much enjoyed seeing the inside of the hall, which burned down in January of 1996 and was rebuilt to look exactly as it was before. It is an opulent, baroque space, very much a work of art itself. The notes state that the restoration allowed acousticians to improve the acoustics greatly, and, indeed, the sound is one of the chief glories of this production.
Orchestra, chorus and soloists are all in fine form, though tenor Joseph Calleja often produced a closed, pushed sound above the stave that was, at times, hard to listen to. Soprano Fiorenza Cedolins has a rich voice and an engaging on-stage personality, well matched by bass Roberto Scandiuzzi. Orchestra and chorus perform with plenty of energy and refinement, though one would never confuse them with their colleagues in Berlin, Vienna or La Scala. Masur’s interpretations are very much middle-of-the-road: everything is in its place, as fidelity to the score is very much a part of Masur’s conducting persona. Yet his minimal use of rubato and tight control of the orchestra produced performances that were literal, sometimes unyielding and low on passion. Surely Verdi, Donizetti, and Puccini intended their melodies to have greater elasticity, to break free of the bar line and soar a bit more? Certainly there is more to this music than Masur and his players allow us to hear. While the two selections by Mozart may seem like odd bedfellows with the other musical selections, 2006 was the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth, and as anyone who attended a classical concert then knows, it was almost impossible not to hear Mozart that year. We also see two dancers and a Harlequin perform in a few places, taking us away from the musicians. I know the New Year Vienna Philharmonic broadcasts do a similar thing, and I have never understood why. It seems distracting and somewhat silly.
The video direction is fine, and unobtrusive, save for the time between selections. During applause and stage re-arranging, a cameraman is encouraged to move quickly around the floor of the hall, panning the camera at odd angles. Is this another way for the viewer to appreciate the beauty of the room? Is it so we can watch members of the audience suddenly shift in their chairs to avoid being run over by the camera? Whatever the rationale, it is annoying and completely unnecessary. As to the performers, the soloists are the most enjoyable to watch, because they interact with one another and the audience. Both orchestra and choir seem disengaged because they don’t move with the music. There are surely some teachers who would argue that the best technique involves a minimum of movement. Yet if a person decides to watch a performance on DVD, then part of that experience should include seeing performers fully engaged with what they are doing. How the chorus can sing “Va pensiero” so beautifully yet remain so immobile is a mystery to me; is this really the chorus that Italians consider an unofficial national anthem? One would never know that from watching this performance. Finally, Kurt Masur, for all his excellence as a musician, is not the most engaging conductor to watch: his arm movements (conducting without a baton) often seem jerky, and are restricted in front of his body. This would hardly prove bothersome, except that his face remains mostly expressionless as he conducts, save for a few eyebrow lifts and the occasional gentle smile. Again, one may argue that this should not matter if the music-making is great - though I would suggest that the most inspirational conductors have faces that are constantly communicating - but this DVD is meant to be viewed, and Masur’s dour expression does not make for pleasant repeated viewing.
With no extras, no subtitles, and less than an hour of music, this is a disappointing release.  

David A. McConnell

Performance details

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
La forza del destino: Overture [8.19]
I Lombardi alla prima crociata: “O Signore, dal tetto nation” (Coro) [4.28]; “La mia letizia infondere” (Oronte) [2.38]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Tosca: “Vissi d’arte” (Tosca) [4.48]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Le nozze di Figaro: Overture [4.55]
Don Giovanni: “Là ci darem la mano” (Don Giovanni, Zerlina) [4.21]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)
Don Pasquale: Sinfonia [6.50]
L’elisir d’amore: “Una furtive lacrima” (Nemorino) [4.53]
Giuseppe VERDI
Nabucco: “Va, pensiero” (Coro di schiavi ebrei) [6.23]
La Traviata: Brindisi: “Libiamo me’ lieti calici” (Alfredo, Coro, Violetta) [3.28]
Fiorenze Cedolins (soprano); Joseph Calleja (tenor); Roberto Scandiuzzi (bass)
Orchestra and Chorus of the Gran Teatro La Fenice/Kurt Masur












































































































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.