Light, fleet and fluent
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 06/15/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although it is well served on disc, it is actually a long time since we've had a new "Barbiere". There were two modern-style recordings in 1992, both very recommendable, with Jennifer Larmore, Haken Hagegard and Raul Gimenez on Teldec, and the super-bargain Naxos set with Ganassi, Servile and Vargas, then quite a long gap before this 2005 recording spliced from live performances in Munich. All three recordings are in fact quite similar: fleet, fast and fluent, without too much obvious attempt to play up the comical but instead leting the music do the work; all the singers are very fine, with agile mezzo Rosinas, lighter baritones as Figaro and lithe, lyric tenors as Almaviva; I would be hard pushed to recommend one above another. Teldec have perhaps the best supporting singers in Ramey and Corbelli, and Sigmundsson's Basilio here is vivid but vocally not a complete success, but differences are negligible. Once you have heard their classic version, it is hard to listen to this music and get the ultra-characterful voices of Callas and Gobbi out of your head; their inflections and timing, not to mention sheer vocal allure, pose formidable competition to more recent artists.
I bought this one because it collects together three fine, new, Rossini performers at a bargain price. Nathan Gunn does not have a big voice, but it is a beautiful, expressive sound, if a little grainy up top. Lawrence Brownlee has made Alamaviva his calling-card and I greatly enjoy his agility, secure top notes and flickering vibrato; he makes a great job of his concluding showpiece "Cessa di piu resistere". Garanca I find more ordinary and very similar to many of the new wave of coloratura mezzos (DiDonato, Kasarova et al), currently tackling Rossini, who are secure and even in tone and production - and faintly anonymous. You get a sense of real ensemble here -which is also the strength of the Naxos set. There is no audience noise apart from enthusiastic and raucous applause at the end of each act.
So while this is not especially distinctive, it is very enjoyable. I would not trade up to it if you have either of the other two modern recordings above but it serves Rossini's intentions admirably and never makes heavy weather of his idiom."
A fresh new Il Barbiere Di Siviglia
Ralph Moore | 06/04/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This fresh new Rossini recording gets better every time I revisit it. Wonderful soloists but some rushed tempi especially with the "Largo" take some of the fun out of it. Lawrence Brownlee's singing is truly amazing. In my opinion, he is the finest Rossini tenor today and perhaps will be the best ever."