Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Isaac Albeniz, José de Eusebio, Carlos Alvarez|
Albéniz - Merlin / Álvarez, Domingo, Henschel, Martínez, Eusebio, Orquest Sinfónia de Madrid
It sounds like an opera plot in itself: Albéniz, acknowledged master of the piano, keen to prove himself on the operatic stage, collaborating with Francis Burdett Money Coutts (founder of the bank) on an Arthurian trilogy.... more »
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It sounds like an opera plot in itself: Albéniz, acknowledged master of the piano, keen to prove himself on the operatic stage, collaborating with Francis Burdett Money Coutts (founder of the bank) on an Arthurian trilogy. Only Merlin has ever been performed, and has waited more than a century to be heard as the composer intended. Worth the wait? Yes, insofar as this is a serious treatment of an age-old legend. The music, written by a composer who has absorbed the "leitmotiv" technique of Wagner thoroughly but never slavishly, filters Gregorian chant tellingly into the musical material, and gives the characters an emotional depth that not even Coutts's ham-fisted libretto can deny. It helps to have Plácido Domingo in commanding voice as Arthur, Jane Henschel insinuating as Morgan le Fay, and Carlos Alvarez as Merlin, whose unwary use of his own power initiates a fateful chain of consequences. José Eusebio's labor of love in realizing the work for performance is evident in his authoritative conducting, while a spacious recording presents the music in the best light. A missing masterpiece? Not quite, but try the Prelude to Act 3 [CD2, track 3] and see if you're not hooked. --Richard Whitehouse
Martyn Richard Jones | Cordoba, Spain | 02/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Where has this been hiding for so long? This opera deserves to be placed up alongside the so called greats. The lyricism of the Spanish Zarzuela has often been dismissed by opera snobs as somewhat inferior to the Italian and Italianates, but how wrong can people get, and this is further proof of the quality, breadth and depth of Spanish opera, one that oozes artistry and care, love and passion, reserve and subtleness, intelligence and brilliance.For me this work (opera in three acts) not only confirms Albeniz as a major operatic composer but places him amongst the greats.Carlos Alvarez, Placido Domingo, Jane Henschel and Ana Maria Martinez do the honors together with the National Choir of Spain and the Choir of the Community of Madrid Alfonso X "El Sabio".So "be wise", if you really like opera you will love this.This work is indeed "a vast and noble achievement". regards,email@example.com"
Perhaps it takes a while to warm up to, but---
albertatamazon | East Point, Georgia USA | 02/13/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As a classical music and opera lover, and as a Spanish music enthusiast, I looked forward to hearing this world-premiere release of an Albeniz opera once thought lost--especially one on the subject of King Arthur. However, after listening to it straight through, I am sorry to say that this is one Spanish work I will probably never really warm up to, and I say that as a listener who is even beginning to like Verdi's "Falstaff", not his most accessible opera. There is absolutely nothing wrong with either the singing, the playing or the conducting, except for the fact that hardly a word can be understood because the all-Spanish cast is singing in English! The choral and orchestral passages are quite impressive and are (to me) easily the best attributes of the music. The arias, however, sound like a cross between Debussy and Wagner, the sort of music which does not really consist of melodies, just endlessly flowing sung notes. This, no doubt, will impress Wagner lovers as well as fans of Debussy's magnificent but extremely difficult opera "Pelleas et Melisande". "Merlin" is clearly not for lovers of Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, Puccini, Handel,Gershwin, or even Berlioz. It is a demanding work that isn't "catchy", "melodic", or even moving. It is the sort of musical composition that one can admire, but never really like or love, and even if you love a work like Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring", you may have a tough time with this one. However, Placido Domingo, who was the driving force behind getting this work recorded, and who, as Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Opera, is accomplishing wonderful feats in re-discovering long forgotten and/or neglected Spanish opera, is to be congratulated. He sings the role of King Arthur here--excellently, and conductor Jose de Eusebio deserves enormous credit for accomplishing the reconstruction of this opera. I sincerely hope Domingo will follow up with other Spanish operas."
Matthew Hannigan | New York, NY | 09/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ok, the libretto is poor (taking far too many liberties on the legend it is based on though that is by no means the only reason) and yes the Spanish cast does roll a few too many R's when singing in English (which is the original language it was written in); but with that said, I found it quite enjoyable. The choruses are stirring, the music is exciting and the orchestrations are quite engaging. While those with Verdian and Puccini preferences will find this work frustrating, if you enjoy the likes of Richard Straus, Bartok, Mahler and Wagner (which heavily influenced this work) you will be pleasantly suprised.While this is the only version available, the all around quality of the recording is very good."