Featuring the best reviews from our loyal ClassicsOnline members.
(6 January – 19 January)
The best version of Juditha Triumphans
This is for us the best version of Juditha Triumphans ever. One that we long sought and finally found on this site - thank you ClassicsOnline - as the CD version was issued more than 20 years ago and is very difficult to find nowadays.
Unfortunately I don't have much details to give about this recording. Ferenc Szekeres conducts a very coherent Hungarian ensemble. Singers can all be praised, with a special mention to Jozsef Reti.
This version commands attention because male parts are sung by male singers, although all the more recent versions are sung only by female singers, as apparently Vivaldi wrote it. However, if this latter all-women cast can be recommended as conform to the original, it lacks the contrast and strength that powerful baritone and tenor voices give to the parts of Holofernes and Vagans.
Among the best tracks are: Arma caedes (chorus), O quam vaga (Abra), Agitata infido flatu (Holofernes), Quamvis ferro (Abra), Veni veni me sequere (Judith), O servi volate (Vagans), Mundi rector (chorus), Nox obscura (Holofernes), Non ita reducem (Juditha), and Armatae face (Vagans).
Ultimate Operetta Album
There is a vast repertoire of vintage operettas that is slowly disappearing beyond the collective memory of older listeners - and certainly completely unknown to younger listeners. These have melodies about Vienna and Love, amongst other themes, often sung in a foreign language, frequently German, (at least foreign for English speakers). And yet if the words are unknown, or the English translation in one's mind does not stretch beyond the first lines, the tunes themselves are often vaguely familiar, and invite our minds to relax to such lilting melodies. So this double album is a welcome addition to the collection, even if many collectors have some of the tracks scattered across other albums.
Some songs, like Vilja from The Merry Widow, appear more frequently elsewhere; the Die Fledermaus overture is a common track on many albums; and Andre Rieu often serves up White Horse Inn numbers; but other tracks like "Girls were made to love and kiss", sung in German, but with such melodious tunes, certainly ring with me (And yes, this reviewer is a male!).
So the contents here are a "hits" list of extracts from the operetta world, sung in their original language. It's a world of romance and fantasy; but we don't have to take the stories and words literally, and perhaps many times the exact wording escapes us anyway. It is surely the tunes, and a few snatches of lines in our memory, that we respond to. It's a world far removed from modern musicals, and we are seemingly invited back to a more romantic age. I rated this album 5 out of 5.
A sweet nordic Christmas
One of the things I like from this album is the home character that it has. Just two warm female voices, and few instruments: no big orchestras, not many instruments, only the essential to create together the two voices a warm domestic atmosphere. There are only two famous carols, all the other tracks, except for only two, were unknown to me. When I listen to this album, I imagine a Nordic house in the long Scandinavian nights, under the snow and with the family around the fire, listening to these carols.
All the songs have the typical character of the Nordic music, very different, for example, from the English carols. My favourite song is “Med glediraust og helgum hljom”, it is really fantastic for me.
I like the two voices very much, the sound they have is very warm and they sing in a very sweet way.
In this album you won’t find the triumphal and majestic character that you can find in many other Christmas albums. I suggest it to everybody who wants a quiet and sweet atmosphere for Christmas.
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