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David Chandler
MusicWeb International, November 2015

…Paer’s oratorio is worth listening to. © 2015 MusicWeb International Read complete review

International Record Review, September 2013

Each soloist has an aria with degrees of elaboration, those of St John (mezzo Vanessa Barkowski) and Joseph of Arimathaea (Gens Hamann) being with the chorus. That of Nicodemus, ‘Tutte, la donna forte’, has the agreeable sound of two clarinets and two cellos as concertante instruments and benefits from the pliant tenor voice of Thomas Michael Allen, very easy on the ear. Indeed, all four soloists handle Paer’s long arias and colourful ensembles with no sign of a struggle. Barkowski has a pleasant, easily produced tone, enabling her to sing her runs with smoothness. She and Horak have a duet, ‘Tra I’inumane squadre’, which depicts them in sweet harmony. Hauk’s chorus and orchestra do Leonora much to make this such a lovely disc. I really did enjoy listening to this music, caught in good sound and well performed… © 2013 International Record Review

William R. Braun
Opera News, June 2013

Tenor Thomas Michael Allen, as Nicodemus, makes an especially fine impression on this disc, recorded in 2008. Allen gives a buoyant performance, pure-toned, unforced, with clear text. Mezzo Vanessa Barkowski, the St. John, has real empathy in her voice, solid low tones and fine control over wide-ranging runs. Her portrayal reminds us that when the dead rise from their graves to be judged, it will be joyous for some but not for everybody. …the choral contribution is on the level of an excellent church choir. Conductor Franz Hauk paces the work, which is just over an hour in length, with an understanding for the style. © 2013 Opera News Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2012

Ferdinando Paer was, together with Simon Mayr, the dominating figure in Italian opera at the beginning of the 19th century, making his early career in Parma. Initially a pupil of his father, who held many important musical positions in Italy, he was already composing in his teenage years, his first opera completed when he was just twenty-one. The mid part of his life found him caught up in the politics surrounding Napoleon, in whose service both he and his wife—an operatic soprano—became involved, both subsequently extracting themselves from that connection without too much damage to their reputation, the couple remaining in Paris until Paer’s death in 1839. That he was such an important composer of opera, found commentators of the time describing his sacred music as too close to the theatre. Certainly that is true of moments in Il Santo Sepolcro ossia La Passione di Gesu Cristo (The Holy Sepulchre or The Passion of Jesus Christ) completed somewhere around the early years of the 19th century, its Introduzione coming close to a Mozart opera overture, though much of the work stands in direct descent of Haydn. It’s text takes us through events after the death of Christ as seen through the eyes of Mary Magdalene and St. John and derived from the bible. The performance is assured, Cornelia Horak floating some beautiful high notes; Thomas Michael Allen’s tenor a little constricted as Nicodemus, the quartet completed by the alto, Vanessa Barkowski, and bass, Jens Hamann. If the chorus sound a bit short of numbers, the orchestra, under the baton of Franz Hauk, is very good, with particularly enjoyable solo woodwind playing. The performance preceded by Simon Mayr’s short Invito to set the devotional scene. Reliable sound quality. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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