J. Buxton | Waltham, MA United States | 07/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Before I listened to this set if you had told me the finest complete version of Porgy and Bess is played by an English orchestra with an English conductor and an English chorus I would have had my doubts to be honest. But it is true. The Abbey Road recording is consistently clear and realistic and the soloists, to a person, are outstanding. Willard White as Porgy, Damon Evans as Sporting Life, Bruce Hubbard as Jake, and Gregg Baker as Crown all bring memorable performances and Cynthia Haymon as Bess and Harolyn Blackwell as Clara are equally convincing. The chorus makes wonderful contributions on "Oh, I'm agoin' out to the Blackfish banks" and "It ain't necessarily so" and "Oh Lawd, I'm on my way". It is a totally idiomatic performance from first to last and it is clear Rattle completely understands this music and was able to convey something special to the performers (as this recording was made just after acclaimed live performances at the Glyndebourne Festival). This has to be my top recommendation for the complete Porgy and Bess."
Matt Greenwood | Baltimore, MD | 07/10/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The previous review describes this as the COMPLETE opera, which it is not. The complete version spans three discs. This looks like it might be a highlights compilation drawn from the same White/Haymon/Rattle/Glyndebourne performance referenced in the previous review. Criticisms of this performance include the relatively slower baton and singing that is TOO clean, to the point of sterility. Of course, many also consider it to be far and away the benchmark recording, so it's clearly a matter of personal preference. The main point being to clarify the completeness issue for the sake of potential buyers..."