Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Alan Opie, Roderick Williams, Thomas Guthrie|
Prokofiev: War & Peace
No Description Available. Genre: Classical Music Media Format: Compact Disk Rating: Release Date: 22-AUG-2000
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No Description Available.
Genre: Classical Music
Media Format: Compact Disk
Release Date: 22-AUG-2000
Best Sound and Best Choral Singing
Charles Voogd | Underwaterland | 11/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the 5th War and Peace I've ever bought on CD's and this is going to be the definitive one for me for a long time. The other 4 will be on sale soon!When I bought the Gergiev set some years ago I thought THAT was going to be the best set ever but Chandos has outdone all of them again.This recording beats Gergiev on quality of recording, sheer emotion, ensemble playing (unbelievable for a hand-picked summer youth orchestra Spoleto is!), choral singing and real understanding of this very lenghthy opera.Gergiev tries to give us some of the hysteria the opera doesn't have by overheating some scenes where Hickox gives the right emotions in Prokofiev's orchestral writing. He also never forgets to let us listen to the wonderfull use of wind and wood instruments Prokofiev uses throughout this opera. Clarinet, oboe and piccollo are just as rightly 'produced' as are the weight and power of mass scenes.So, the opera in this presentation clearly becomes a sometimes intimate drama rather than a oratorio showcase as with Gergiev.Under the sheer size of the mass scenes and the subject (Napoleon's War against Russia) lie just the same human problems as in all opera: love, hate, relations and opportunities. And that's what you get in this great performance thanks to the very committed playing of this festival orchestra and the great singing."
All around best?
Jdaniel1371 | Sacramento, CA United States | 10/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't let the length intimidate you; there's really never a dull moment in this wonderful work. The big moments are thrilling-the choral epigraph, Kutuzov's aria, Moscow burning, the snowstorm, the choral finale-and Prokofiev links these all together with some of the sweetest lyricism this side of the Iron Curtain. Let's get the important questions out of the way first.Is the cover artwork worthy of the epic within? One of Chandos' most beautiful, yet masculine covers.Are the sublime sounds of the bass drum and gong caught admirably? Oh yes. Being a live recording, can one hear coughing? Only when Moscow is burning. This audience had to have been bound and gagged. Stage shuffling is barely audible.Do we finally get a palatable soprano for the role of Natasha? Yes. Morozova's voice is light and fresh, if a little detached. Prokofiev gives his most beautiful music--that ecstatic 7th leap!--to Natasha and her willing but doomed suitor Prince Andrey, sung by Roderick Williams. Williams has a lovely, rich voice. Of the three performances I've heard, (Rostropovich, Gergiev, Hickox), the Morozova/Williams duo is most satisfactory to me, both in the opening moonlight scene and in Andrey's death scene. Hickox's handling of the orchestral atmospherics in the death scene is exceedingly satisfying-Prokofiev brings back the beautiful moonlight music but this time he shrouds the melody with the most delicate harp glissandi. In a word, haunting.I don't know what to make of Alan Ewing's Kutuzov. His voice is strong, his intonation dead-on, and his portrayal full of character. But for a bass he's got a vibrato tighter than Sarah Brightman's. Matthew Boyden (?) of "Rough Guide to Opera" describes Ewing's voice as bellowing; I would call it more like braying. Being that Ewing gets the "big" aria, his voice--unique to say the least--may be an issue to some. I find it tolerable enough. The only other voice that (unquestionably) detracts is that of Igor Matioukhin, or Dolokhov-very wobbly. Hickox's youthful Spoleto Festival Orchestra produces a wonderfully idiomaticProkofiev-esque sound, and I've got to hand it to the Chandos recording team for capturing all the goings on so successfully. For a live recording, the depth and voluptuousness of sound is remarkable. Though I feel that Rostropovich captures the overall grandeur and excitement of Prokofiev's epic the best, his achievement is only marginally better than Hickox. And with Hickox, the more intimate scenes of the opera-those moments between Natasha and Andrey-are better served with the voices of Morozova and Williams. (IMHO Gergiev's performance is too hard-pressed to give the composer's delectable orchestral colors proper bloom. And those absurdly intrusive stage noises!)"War and Peace" is not like Prokofiev's other operas, such as "The Fiery Angel," "Love of Three Oranges," or "The Gambler." The lyricism and action sequences of W&P are more akin to his later ballets, "Romeo and Juliet" and "Cinderella," written while the composer was integrating himself into the new Soviet culture of his homeland. Though revised time and time again to satisfy the whims of the Soviet Artistic Committee, War and Peace is hardly the musical equivalent of "svimwear." (Remember that great commercial?) It's inspired and potent stuff. If you're squeamish about dropping the [money] on the complete opera, Chandos offers a single-CD recording of a suite from the opera arranged by C. Palmer. (CHAN9096)John Smyth"