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Fiery Angel

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 19 2005)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B00099BPO2
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #266,077 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
9 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Horror Opera Sept. 15 2005
By John O'Connor - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The story of this opera is dated now, but when it was first written, it was a true horror story. I won't give the plot away, but it has its moments. Prokofiev was a very underrated composer, and this music is wonderful for the story. Even if you don't like opera, you may just find this one worth listening to.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No libretto with the reissue of this performance April 11 2013
By James Rockhill - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
While I have no problem with this performance, which I value as a cooler, somewhat clearer complement to Gergiev's passionate performance (not available in the US, but worth tracking down on DVD from a seller in Europe, since the CDs are OP and not as well recorded as the DGG), I suggest you buy the earlier version. DGG supplies only a track-by-track synopsis with this reissue.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars dark opera with music and voices to match Feb. 25 2010
By Domingo Warner - Published on
Format: Audio CD
i believe that in opera there are certain tales with music tailor-made for them,and i think this is one of the most perfect examples.It is a dark story,dealing with the supernatural and demonic,and the music and voices are excellent in representing those situations.Nadine Secunde stands out in her performance of the doomed Renata,as does Siegfried Lorenz in the role of the caring Ruprecht, but all the suporting cast it is splendid,and the chorus of nuns is wonderful.The music sometimes it is disturbing ,the same is the singing,but it is because the story asks for it.If you like the more melodic italian or french style of the 19th century, you could not like this.But if you really like opera,that is,if you really apreciate the tale being told and take that to understand why some operas are so different to the others,this is an opera for you.
4.0 out of 5 stars The uneven "Fiery Angel" receives an outstanding performance Dec 17 2014
By jt52 - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This set is an example of outstanding execution -- singing, orchestral accompaniment and sound engineering -- applied to a stage work of mixed quality. "The Fiery Angel" took up years of Sergei Prokofiev's life, from initial sketches to adapting the original novel into a libretto, which he did himself, to writing the piano score and then orchestrating it. 8 years of effort. And then the opera, finished once and for all in 1927, wasn't performed in Prokofiev's lifetime. This fiasco was one of the contributing factors to the crisis of confidence Prokofiev suffered in the early 1930s, one that led to his seemingly-demented and ultimately catastrophic (especially for his wife) return to the Soviet Union in 1936.

I saw the opera live in the 1990s and then have been listening to it in this Neeme Jaarvi performance. My bottom-line assessment is that it has its moments, but there are also long stretches of music that simply aren't interesting. Written in a brash, sometimes barbaric idiom, the best part of the opera occurs in Act 2, especially the witchcraft scenes and the theme with tremolo strings above a frightening ostinato. Parts of this Act 2 writing were used as a basis by Prokofiev for the 3rd symphony, a 30-minute-long work that one could use as a sort of Cliff's Notes for "Fiery Angel." I found Acts 1 and 3 to have generally low levels of interest. The concluding acts, which take place in a convent with demonic possessions and an orgy, are more interesting musically.

"The Fiery Angel" can't survive without excellent vocal leads. Fortunately, we are blessed with two outstanding ones in this 1991 release. The US soprano Nadine Secunde does the main role of Renata with technical aplomb and musicality. Baritone Siegfried Lorenz, cast in the role of Ruprecht, has a wonderful voice and projects mastery of the material. The supporting roles aren't quite at the level of Secunde or Lorenz but are generally capable. I have had mixed experiences with Neeme Jaarvi but my impression is that this is one of the best of his many recordings. It's a sharp orchestral interpretation with tight ensemble in what is a very challenging score.

The original DG release contained liner notes written by Russian music specialist Richard Taruskin. Taruskin provides the real-life background to the plot of "The Fiery Angel", including a fascinating and depressing postscript about the woman, Nina Petrovskaya, who inspired the story and the character of Renata. Astonishingly, Petrovskaya like Prokofiev emigrated to France and died, without his knowing it, a short distance from the composer when he was working on the score. You may want to look for the original version for this reason. The sound engineering, as I mentioned, is very good as well.

If you are interested in getting to know "The Fiery Angel", this recording can be recommended with confidence. If you are uncertain, I suggest listening to the 3rd symphony first as a check.

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