Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Towering Don Giovanni on Blu-ray

From December 2, 2014:


Everything about the new Blu-ray disc of the early 2014 Royal Opera production of Don Giovanni is of the highest quality. Director Kasper Holten’s conception of the opera as psycho-drama is well-served by Es Devlin’s design, by the singing and acting chops of the cast, and by the stylish playing of the Royal Opera House orchestra under the direction of Nicola Luisotti. First and foremost is, of course, Marius Kwiecien as the Don. His strengths as a singer are only surpassed by his acting ability. From Don Giovanni’s initial swagger to the torments of the finale Kwiecien commands the stage (and the camera) with a huge range from violent intimidation to the subtlest portrayal of his internal insecurities. It’s a majestic performance that matches the finest work of the greatest stage or screen actors I can think of.

To this superman/monster Mozart adds humanity with a great cast of supporting characters. Alex Esposito is an outstanding Leporello, bringing comedy and pathos in equal measure. Both Malin Bystrom as Donna Anna and Veronique Gens as Donna Elvira are amazing singers, but also fine actresses who create rounded characters rather than merely wronged and vengeful stock figures.

Blu-ray is the perfect medium for Mozart’s drama, which is oddly intimate, even claustrophobic, while it deals with the widest range of human emotion and supernatural forces.

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