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

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here

Some items
to consider

  • Sammartini: 6 Concerti grossi
  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
  • Mozart Flute Quartets
  • Schubert complete piano works
  • Sammartini: 6 Concerti grossi
  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
 
Tudor



CD and Blue-ray Audio


CD and Blue-ray Audio


CPE Bach Cantatas
a revelation


Biber: Sacred Choral Works
Don't miss it


Jonathan Dove


Tommie Haglund
Unique and Powerful music


Organ Fireworks


Highly Entertaining


A triumphant performance


Bruckner Symphony 4
One of the finest I have heard


A most joy-inducing recording


A winning partnership


A Lohengrin to treasure.

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical



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

Sample: See what you will get

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

Support us financially by purchasing this from
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Otello [131:57]
Otello – Robert Dean Smith (tenor)
Desdemona – Raffaella Angeletti (soprano)
Iago – Sebastian Catana (baritone)
Emilia – Marifé Nogales (mezzo)
Cassio – Luis Dámaso (tenor)
Roderigo – Vicenç Esteve (tenor)
Montano – Michael Dries (bass)
Lodovico – Kristjan Mõisnik (bass)
Orfeón Donostiarra, Los “Peques” del León de Oro
Oviedo Filarmonía/Friedrich Haider
rec. Auditorio Príncipe Felipe, Oviedo, Spain, 22 August–8 September 2007, 18– 26 August 2009
NAXOS 8.660357-58 [64:32 + 67:25]

I was attracted to this set by seeing Robert Dean Smith’s name in the title role. In one sense it’s a natural role for him, sitting in the heroic tenor register in which he has become so successful; but in another it’s importantly different to the German world of Strauss and Wagner with which he is so particularly associated. The ringing heroism to the voice is still exciting here, especially at the top, and this really comes to the fore during the confrontation with Iago in the second act. The end of Ora e per sempre is thrilling, as is the Oath Duet, and he rings over the climaxes of the ensemble in Act Three, too. Most of the time, however, Dean Smith sounds like a bit of a tourist in the role. The Italianate nature of the role seems to escape him almost entirely, despite his comfort with the tessitura, and he tends to deliver the role in a rather staccato style that mitigates against the lyricism of the part, for all its spinto nature. His Otello sounds rather pained, and not just because of Iago’s villainy. The bottom of the role is also a bit of a struggle for him, demonstrated most painfully in the opening phrases of the love duet and in Dio ti potevi. So, for all his virtues, his assault on the Moor has to go down as a heroic failure.

If RDS is ultimately disappointing, however, then elsewhere there is a lot to enjoy. Raffaella Angeletti is a marvellous Desdemona. Her voice is all cream and honey, radiating the character’s beauty, and she is wonderful in both the love duet and, equally importantly, the big confrontation of Act Three. Her Willow Song is opulently beautiful, while the Ave Maria is much more thoughtful and shot through with regret. Sebastian Catana is also a very successful Iago. He sings the part with a voice that would curdle milk, full of malice and cunning but never unmusical and tapping into the character’s deceptive beauty. The lesser roles are all perfectly fine, too, though Luis Dámaso is a rather baritonal Cassio who is sometimes hard to distinguish from Iago.

Friedrich Haider conducts excitingly, pacing everything just about right, though the Act 3 ensemble is too fast, and the orchestra follow him well. The amateur choruses are very obviously Spanish, though, and their accents are so pronounced that their contributions sound a little staid and artificial once the excitement of Act One is out of the way.

This release has some good things going for it, and at budget price it’s hard to beat — if you insist on modern stereo. If you’re prepared to pay a little more, though, you’d do better to look for Muti’s Chicago recording with Antonenko. If you look in the right place then you can get it for only a little more but it gives you much better performances and a full libretto with translation. In short, a much better deal.

Simon Thompson
 
Previous review: Göran Forsling