Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Email Password  
Not a subscriber yet?  
Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

Bill White
Fanfare, September 2012

This 2002 staging from the Châtelet in Paris has been reviewed three times in the pages of Fanfare…All have characterized it fairly, I believe, as some pretty good singing with some quite spectacular visuals. North went so far as to call it the most beautifully visual opera video ever. What is new here is its issuance by Arthaus Musik on Blu-ray. I have not seen the performance on regular DVD, but if North thought it visually impressive before, the clarity and sharpness and vividness of colors on the higher-resolution Blu-ray recording must make this version substantially better.

It is a credit to the Châtelet forces and the Japanese production team that this is so. They have taken a set of simple unit risers like a choir would stand on, which can be rearranged in different configurations, added some visually interesting props like cherry trees and colorful streamers, and created an exotic wonderland. Of course, the Kabuki theme, the fantastical and richly colored costumes, and the exotic dancing all contribute to the remarkable effect.

The singing is almost uniformly better in the…production. I would give the nod to the Paris Orchestra…In summary, my judgment is like the others: This Châtelet Golden Cockerel is a standout, especially in its Blu-ray reincarnation, and a clear first choice. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Jeffrey Kauffman, April 2012

This was Rimsky-Korsakov's final opera, and in fact one of the last pieces he ever wrote. This stunningly designed Kabuki version was first performed in 1984 in a co-production by the San Francisco Opera, but it's revived here by the Théâtre Musical de Paris—Châtelet, once again featuring the staging of renowned Kabuki artist Ennosuke Ichikawa.

This is an incredibly sumptuous and really fascinating production that retains an inherent feel of ritual due to its Kabuki setting, a setting which also manages to bring out the folklore aspects of the opera. The cast here is made up of Kabuki notables as well as an international cast that features a number of Russians. While the sets are minimal…the costumes here are outstandingly opulent, with glorious robes and masks for many major players, and a fabulous costume for The Golden Cockerel.

Kent Nagano has always been one of the more adventurous conductors on the contemporary scene, and he invests this Golden Cockerel with a lot of flash and panache, a glittering patina that brings out the effervescently glamorous ambience of Rimsky-Korsakov's opulent melodies. The cast sings marvelously, with Saenz's Cockerel a real standout. The production also features some very appealing and authentically ethnic choreography, especially in the third act, adding an almost carnival like atmosphere to the proceedings. Orientalism may be thought of largely as a musty relic of a bygone age, but reinvigorated as it is here in this stunning Golden Cockerel, the allure of the East shows it is still alive and well…

Le Coq d'Or (The Golden Cockerel) is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of ArtHaus Musik…this is a respectably sharp and well defined high definition presentation that is especially impressive in terms of color, which is boldly saturated and which pops incredibly well throughout the opera. Black levels are solid and quite deep, though there is a problem with muddy shadow detail at times, especially in the upstage area which is frequently quite dark. Fine detail pops rather pleasingly in close-ups, with the fabrics of the costumes especially impressive.

Vocals are extremely well mixed and prioritized and balance is very well handled throughout the opera. The orchestra and ensemble sound excellent under Nagano's vigorous baton, and dynamic range is also quite wide and appealing.

Le Coq d'Or (The Golden Cockerel) is a brilliantly lush and exotically sumptuous orchestra, one almost drowning in melody and that very colorful style that defines Rimsky-Korsakov. Luckily the physical production here matches the glamour of the music in virtually every respect. The Eastern ambience only helps to make this piece more of a fairy tale in some ineffable way, and the entire production is both magical and meaningful. Well sung, well played and extremely well staged, this is a Golden Cockerel that is in fact truly golden…with strong video and stellar audio, this release comes Highly recommended. © 2012 Read complete review

Lawrence Devoe, April 2012

This is a 2002 Theatre Musical de Paris-Chatelet production, staged as a Japanese Kabuki drama by famed actor Ennosuke Ichikawa. The kabuki concept is realized in its magnificent costumes and sets. The exotic Rimsky-Korsakov score is well handled by conductor Kent Nagano and his forces, the Orchestre de Paris and the Marinsky Chorus of St Petersburg. The soloists are simply superb as are the audio and video recordings.

The large cast receives lavish and colorful costumes. While the stage has minimal props, it really does not matter here since everything else is so pleasing to the eye. The close-ups…are often eye-popping in their color and detail. The camera work is also outstanding giving a continuing sense of the dramatic action.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 presents a well-balanced account of the singers and orchestra. This is a huge score and yet the details are well managed in the audio recording. The music is gorgeous…

Le Coq d’Or…is a winner in just about every respect: sight, sound, concept, and stage realization. This opera is truly a feast for the eyes and ears; thankfully, director Ichikawa and conductor Nagano make this point time and time again. I can assure you that the time spent watching this Blu-ray will go by very quickly tempting you, like I was tempted, to hit the replay button and watch it all over again.  Highly recommended. © 2012 Read complete review

Karl Lozier
Positive Feedback Online, March 2012

…Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was particularly well known and loved for his orchestration and colorful compositions. Many recordings of his most popular compositions are often “treated or glamorized” by some conductors to enhance what needs no enhancing. This beautiful recording is proof positive of that fact. …the beauty is almost overwhelming and exquisitely crowned by…colorful music. Here the faithful video reproduction must be mentioned for its beauty also. So far each time I played this great recording I got immersed in it and simply enjoyed rather finding fault with any aspect of the audio quality. So, before I play it again I shall simply say, “buy it and enjoy” whether you are a jaded long time classical music lover or a relative newcomer. The audio quality is not to be faulted…Enjoy, enjoy and hopefully enjoy some more of this most enjoyable Russian opera even if you are not usually an opera lover. © 2012 Positive Feedback Online Read complete review

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group