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International Record Review, March 2014

I am surprised that Hrachuhi Bassénz, the Armenian soprano who sings Jefte, is not better known. She possesses a full tone, rounded in the middle and with a mezzoish hue, and is most gratifying throughout… © 2014 International Record Review

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, September 2013

…the music, performances, and recording are all first-rate…unconditionally recommended. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Philip Greenfield
American Record Guide, September 2013

Maestro Hauk chose his singers very well. Mezzo Stefanie Iryani is vulnerable yet strong as Seila, and bass Jochen Kupfer manages to be both imposing and agile as Jaddo, the High Priest. The orchestra is fine, and the choirs acceptable. Naxos contributes an attractive sound stage plus a booklet with notes and a helpful synopsis. © 2013 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Göran Forsling
MusicWeb International, July 2013

Naxos are continuing their valuable series of Simon Mayr’s works…Mayr’s work is on a more modest scale but still interesting and worth anyone’s attention.

The short sinfonia is colourful with a lot of wind solos and throughout there is plenty of interesting orchestral detail. The choral writing is efficient and engaging…O belle vergine…is really beautiful. The recitatives…are expressive and sometimes adorned with embellishments. That interest hardly ever wavers is a tribute to the quality of the music and the standard of execution. The chorus and orchestra are well drilled under Franz Hauk, the mastermind behind the project and an enthusiast who burns for this music.

He has gathered four outstanding young soloists for the important arias and ensembles. The Armenian soprano Hrachuhí Bassénz, who sings the title role, has an excellent voice with dramatic potential. Jefte’s daughter Seila is sung by mezzo-soprano Stefanie Irányi, who also seems destined to make headlines. Hers is a grand voice…

Abnero…is sung by tenor Robert Sellier. He has a fine flexible voice with sturdy technique.

I hope Naxos will continue this interesting and very attractive series…This latest issue is worth the attention of all inquisitive music-lovers, and most of all it should attract lovers of excellent singing. © 2013 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2013

Simon Mayr composed over seventy operas and six hundred sacred works, so that the charge that he wrote too much for his own good was probably justified. He had been born in Bavaria in 1763, but then moved to Italy in his early twenties where he hoped to make a living in opera. He soon found out that he was not impressing his audiences, and moved into church music where he could be assured of audiences. His immense catalogue of scores included many cantatas and several oratorios including Il sagrifizio di Jefte (The Sacrifice of Jeptha)  a highly charged story of the vow that Jeptha takes to sacrifice the first person he meets at his house if he is given success in the war against the Ammonites. That first person proved to be his daughter. Into that part of the story is woven her love of the warrior who has helped in her father’s success. It is the work’s world premiere recording that continues Naxos’s quiet extraordinary pursuit of reinstating Mayr as a major 19th century composer. Here they have struck gold, the operatically inclined oratorio endowed with excellent arias and a very strong orchestral backdrop. The soloists, which are the finest yet assembled in this Mayr series, is headed by the young Armenian soprano, Hrachuhi Bassenz, a suitably dramatic Jeptha, her voice well projected and her intonation perfectly centred. In the male role she is well contrasted with the lightweight mezzo of Stefanie Iranyi, as his daughter, Seila, who finds some additional gravity for her final aria.  I am impressed with the lyric German bass, Jochen Kupfer, as the High Priest, his power so pleasingly unforced, as he tries to bring sanity to the scene, while the tenor, Robert Sellier does all possible to breath life into the part of Abner, the unfortunate who is betrothed to Seila. The chorus do everything expected of them, and the orchestra, drawn from various other ensembles, greatly enjoy their dramatic writing. I much commend it to you in clear and detailed sound. © David’s Review Corner

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