MusicWeb International reviews more Classical recordings than any one else.

53,555 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere
Normal service resumed


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas


Recordings of the Month


Beethoven String Quartets

Produzioni Armoniche

Seven Symphonic Poems

Shostakovich VC1 Baiba Skride
Tchaikovsky Symph 5 Nelsons

Vivaldi Violin Concertos



Beethoven Piano Concertos

Stradal Transcriptions

LOSY Note d’oro

Scarlatti Sonatas Vol 2

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers
Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

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
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Ernani - Lyric drama in four acts (1844) 
Ernani - Neil Schicoff (tenor)
Elvira - Michèle Crider (soprano)
Don Carlo - Carlos Álvarez (baritone)
Silva - Roberto Scandiuzzi (bass)
Orchester und Chor der Wiener Staatsoper/Seiji Ozawa
rec. live, ORF, Vienna State Opera, 14 December 1998
ORFEO C861132I [79:16 + 43:09]

Many aspects of this live recording of Ernani are very good. On a technical level the radio sound is excellent, and probably has the edge of over Muti’s live recording from La Scala. The clarity of the vocal lines is very good, and the off-stage effects are captured very successfully. The playing of the orchestra is superb, full of both dramatic sweep and extraordinary attention to detail, and Ozawa shows that he was very good at pacing an unfolding Verdi paragraph.
The problems however are considerable, and they exist chiefly in the performances of the two protagonists. The booklet notes argue strongly for Neil Schicoff’s popularity in Vienna, and they point out that he was made a Kammersänger during the run of this production. He certainly has the vocal heft and strength for the role, but he lacks the lyrical ardour that really needs to distinguish this hero. That’s a particular problem for his appearance in the first scene; maybe he just hadn’t warmed up properly, but he makes heavy weather of his aria and cabaletta. Things improve as the opera progresses, and he manages some poignancy in the final scene, but he doesn’t have the flair and sweep that this role requires. After all, Ernani is a pretty barmy character with all of his overblown ideas about honour, and to make him convincing it really takes a super tenor to do so. Pavarotti - better on DVD from the Met than his WNO recording - and Domingo (on Muti’s set) both do a much better job, as does the untouchable Carlo Bergonzi. Even more problematic is Michèle Crider’s Elvira, who makes the whole part sound effortful and difficult. She has to haul herself up to many of her top notes, and the hard work required detracts from the thrill of, say, her first act aria and cabaletta. She, too, improves as the opera continues, but her final scene is histrionic and warbly, taking Elvira’s pleading rather too far for my taste. Both Freni and Sutherland recorded this role too late in their careers, and the undisputed finest Elvira of them all remains Leontyne Price, both live from the Met and on Schippers’ RCA studio recording which, for me, is the finest Ernani on disc by a country mile.
Álvarez is much better as Don Carlo, singing with nobility, elegance and a great deal of beauty, especially compelling in the third act. Scandiuzzi also gives a good picture of elderly vindictiveness without lapsing into parody, and his pact with Ernani in the second act is exciting and sinister. The ensembles also go well, particularly the big one at the end of the first act, but aside from that there isn’t much that will make me come back to this set. In fact, I struggle to see why Orfeo have seen this as worthy of release, unless it be that they wanted to rush out a release of something (anything!) for the Verdi bicentenary in 2013. This one is only for die-hard fans of the artists involved.
Simon Thompson