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Reviews Written by
Amazon Customer "drvox" (Nashville, TN)

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Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 24.08
31 used & new from CDN$ 2.56

4.0 out of 5 stars Just a few years too soon, yet worth having, April 6 2002
This review is from: Arias (Audio CD)
So perfect in Mozart's Figaro and Verdi's Falstaff, it would seem Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel's vocal pedigree would be stamped for approval in the baritone roles of Richard Wagner's music dramas. What was so thrilling in his initial recordings of Schubert lieder, English art song literature and Richard Rodgers musical theatre melodies has accidentally fallen into the vocal palette with which this great singer has chosen to paint his Wagnerian characters, and in doing so, much is lost. In those earlier releases, Mr. Terfel's whittling down of his vocal resources to express caresses, whispers, and sighs brought colors which stood out greatly against his vocal declamations, cries and peals of laughter. However, in Wagnerian music these characteristics seem as out of place as might the use of Shakespearean cant in a television sitcom. Fortunately for the listener, Mr. Terfel does not limit himself to painting with these conversational brush strokes, but allows himself at moments of climax the type of full-bodied vocalism that one might expect from an operatic artist of his vocal eminence. These concerns aside, Mr. Terfel simply sounds too young for all of these roles, save Tannhauser's Wolfram, a role he has performed onstage. Perhaps hearing himself in this recording is what propelled Mr. Terfel to delay the assumption of Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger, a role he was slated to sing as early as 2003. Another decade of vocal maturity will do much to enhance the Wagnerian performances of a singer who has already proved himself to be a member of the vocal pantheon.

Offered by Rarewaves-US
Price: CDN$ 19.01
15 used & new from CDN$ 1.53

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much to enjoy with an eye to the future, April 6 2002
This review is from: Arias (Audio CD)
Magdalena Kozena first attracted attention in a CD of Bach arias (which DG has not released in the US), followed by a critically acclaimed disc of Czech art songs and a recording of Italian cantatas by Handel. Her first solo operatic disc, like that of many of her contemporaries, is dedicated to the lyric mezzo roles of Mozart and Gluck. Kozena brings to this mix Josef Myslivecek, a Czech composer who seems to have fallen into the great 18th-century musicological chasm (i.e. not Mozart, not Haydn), despite compositional success on the operatic scenes of both Italy and Portugal, as well as a working relationship with the young Mozart (the oratorio selection from Abramo ed Isacco was once attributed to the young Mozart). Throughout Ms. Kozena brings to the music an instrument infused with alternatively mecurial and plaintive tonal qualities, youthful vitality and expressive spontaneity, coupled with emotional commitment, eloquent musicianship, and a vocal personality well suited to the requirements of 18th-century opera seria.

Italian Opera Arias
Italian Opera Arias
Offered by @ ALLBRIGHT SALES @
Price: CDN$ 37.34
12 used & new from CDN$ 5.14

3.0 out of 5 stars So, so close..., April 6 2002
This review is from: Italian Opera Arias (Audio CD)
Surely I am not the only operatic connoisseur who has waited in vain for a top-of-the-line Italianate soprano to appear on the current vocal scene, only to be disappointed time and time again with squally top registers, nonexistent chest tones, and senses of legato akin to a vegetable steamer. I would love to tell you that our wait is over, but alas and alack, I don't have that pleasure. But, and it is a big but, this singer comes so close - in her finer moments, she reminds me of the young Leontyne Price, both in vocal poise and stylistic choices; in others, the shrill, vibrato-stricken, two-dimensional vocal largesse of Sarah Brightman. What is most disheartening is that this is a major talent, and what is vocally out-of-sync could be fixed quite easily and quickly - though that would require a hiatus of a few months from her emerging international career - not an easy option. When the voice is singing on darker vowels ('oh' and 'oo'), or emerging from them, the voice is simply ravishing with depth of tone, warmth of color, and ease of production - her use of dynamics harkens back to a previous vocal era. However, whenever she finds herself situated within the brighter vowel sounds ('ah' 'ih' 'ee'), she comes off the voice and renders her tone inert, harsh and overtaxed - all chiaro, no scuro! Vocals aside, her approach to the music is stylistically authentic, emotionally moving and viscerally thrilling, though wisdom would encourage her to wait for some of the vocally heftier heroines later in her career. Leontyne's advice to 'Sing on the interest, not on the principal' should be taken to heart by this immensely talented singer.

Rossini Arias
Rossini Arias
Price: CDN$ 18.09
36 used & new from CDN$ 1.42

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb music-making of the finest order, April 5 2002
This review is from: Rossini Arias (Audio CD)
Like his fellow countryman Luiga Alva, Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Florez is the possessor of that rara avis, the Rossini tenor - a vocal type noted for its brilliance and flexibility in the highest tessitura of the male voice. Mr. Florez sounds positively joyous in this fiendishly difficult music, full of technical passages replete with scales, leaps and trills, which the tenor meets with pinpoint accuracy: in tune and with perfect rhythmic articulation. In the more somber selections, his voice takes on a poignant quality, with a graceful approach to phrasing, a seamless Italianate legato and a palette of subtle vocal colorings. In addition, Mr. Florez has a singing personality which matches this repertoire: masculine, aggressive and full of bravura and vitality. Despite a slight tendency to spread in the stratosphere and an ever-present tendency to a bit of nasality, the voice is easily the most beautiful to be presented before the public in modern times in this repertoire - warm, round and evenly produced. I look forward to his future.

Ben Heppner - Airs Français / LSO, Myung-Whun Chung
Ben Heppner - Airs Français / LSO, Myung-Whun Chung
Price: CDN$ 18.65
21 used & new from CDN$ 2.82

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine French Fare, March 21 2002
Canadian tenor Ben Heppner is certainly one of the finest singers on the current operatic scene. Despite his tendency to slightly squeeze the voice on top rather than allow it to bloom, he truly has a lovely vocal quality, full of warmth and color, along with a superior musical intelligence with which he has begun to bring a deepening sense of dramatic conviction to his interpretions over the last few years. On this disc, he succeeds greatly in the arias from operas which are within his vocal fach: Les Troyens, La Juive, El Cid, L'Africaine, and Le prophète. In particular, it is joy to hear the ardor and longing in his Enée (his complete traversal of the role with the LSO recently won a Grammy), the world-weariness of his Eléazar without the Italianate sobbing which has become de rigueur, and the victorious triumph of Jean de Leyde. Though Mr. Heppner's sense of lyricism serves him well, the other selections really require a different type of tenor, one whose vocal quality is lighter and more flexible in terms of dynamics and shading. Nonetheless, this is a fine recording, with exciting contributions from both the London Symphony Orchestra and conductor Myung-Whun Chun.

Gluck Italian Arias
Gluck Italian Arias
Price: CDN$ 22.87
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars The Right Stuff, March 6 2002
This review is from: Gluck Italian Arias (Audio CD)
Anyone familiar with the work of Sally Sanford in her book, "Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Vocal Style and Technique", will certainly agree that Cecilia Bartoli embodies the vocal approach that this classical era repertoire demands - breath-initiated tone and articulation, facile approach to fioratura, and seamless legato. While Ms. Bartoli's vocal facility is still amazing after more than a decade before the public, it is always her slow, lyrical singing that proves she is a musical artist of the first rank. On top of this superlative vocalism (despite a slight wiriness to the uppermost pitches), the listener gets an insight to the music that influenced the operatic compositional style of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Perhaps it bodes well for a Gluck revival with the recordings now available from mezzos Susan Graham, Anne Sofie von Otter, and Magdalena Kozena, as well as Ms. Bartoli. A Gluck "La clemenza di Tito" would be a thrilling addition to the record archives if Ms. Bartoli's recording of the arias are any indication. Now, when can we expect the Handel arias album?

French Arias
French Arias
Price: CDN$ 19.61
11 used & new from CDN$ 5.91

1.0 out of 5 stars Provincial at Best, Feb. 13 2002
This review is from: French Arias (Audio CD)
Always looking for new talent and certainly aware of the reputation of Mr. Alvarez, I was extremely disappointed to find a colorless, unfocussed voice with virtually no innate musical sense, much less a familiarity with French operatic style. The voice is tight and wooden, with approaches to the high notes varyingly grunting and gnashing of teeth. Is this merely the result of a basically untrained natural talent succumbing to an international career? After hearing beautiful work from both Ramon Vargas and Juan Diego Florez, and acceptable singing from Roberto Alagna and Ben Heppner in the past few months, I must say that Sony has a talent search on their hands if they are to compete with RCA, Decca, DG and EMI.

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