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Göran Forsling
MusicWeb International, February 2013

The orchestral playing is superb—the Georgian Chamber Orchestra retains its position as one of the leading chamber ensembles in Europe. The Simon Mayr Choir…also evinces high level skills.

The four main soloists are also very good. When [Andrea Lauren Brown] reaches the…Preghiera she is in wonderful shape. Her dramatic singing is also splendid. Susanne Bernhard as Anna is even better, equipped with a superb, extremely beautiful voice. Just listen to her in the recitative preceding the duet in Scene 1 and her joyous and dramatic aria with chorus a little later in the same scene (CD 1 tr. 5). Rainer Trost, the best known of the soloists, has been around for quite some time—he was a very good Camille in Gardiner’s Die lustige Witwe almost twenty years ago. He has retained both beauty of tone and elegance of phrasing. Jens Hamann’s well-schooled lyrical bass is adroitly suited to Eli’s role. He sings the aria Esser degli esseri (CD 2 tr. 2) with beguiling tone and plenty of nuance.

Those who have not yet been in contact with Simon Mayr’s music could do much worse than start here; those who already have probably won’t need any persuasion. This is a valuable addition to the growing catalogue of Mayr’s works. © MusicWeb International Read complete review

Henry Fogel
Fanfare, January 2013

Naxos, and conductor Franz Hauk, are the most significant champions that Johannes Simon Mayr…has in our day.

Naxos has done music lovers an important service by recording so much of his music, and recording it in persuasive and accomplished performances. This disc is a winner…I believe that anyone with a more than casual interest in the music of this era should become familiar with his works, and is very likely to enjoy them. Mayr’s use of speech accompanied by music, or speech alternating with music, is both original and effective.

The role of Hannah is beautifully sung by the German lyric soprano Susanne Bernhard. Her tone is sweet, her technique secure, and she phrases and shapes with purpose. Rainer Trost, as her husband, has a lesser role but sings it appealingly. American Andrea Lauren Brown [as Samuel] sings beautifully. In Samuel’s duet with the priest Eli, “Che tento!” her floated pianos are exquisite, and her singing of the prayer “Dio, che immortal, benefico” is one of the highlights of the set.

Franz Hauk must be the world’s leading Mayr expert, certainly among performers…Hauk is clearly a gifted conductor who knows how to communicate his understanding of this music to his choral and orchestral forces. The chorus sings well…and the Ingolstadt Georgian Chamber Orchestra plays with energy and intensity.

Naxos provides fine notes…The recorded sound is well balanced and has a good, middle of the balcony, perspective for the listener. Enthusiastically recommended. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Raymond J Walker
MusicWeb International, August 2012

We welcome the enthusiasm shown by Franz Hauk in bringing out another Mayr oratorio to add to the substantial Naxos Mayr series…

Samuele is unusual because it is mainly made up of parodies of some of the composer’s previous operas including Atar, Fedra and La rosa bianca. It has charming moments and throughout there are choral numbers that are uplifting and inject an added brightness. Unusual aspects involve the inclusion of two short march interludes, and a section of spoken words with simple instrumental backing. The stately opening hymn, Alfine in petto l’anima, taken at lively pace, immediately engages and holds the listener.

The breezy recitatives and arias sung by Andrea Lauren Brown (Samuele) are adorable for their legato, effortless top notes and sincerity of delivery. Her aria, Dio, che immortal is stunning with its delicacy and lightness of touch. Elsewhere her versatile flourishes blend well with the warm acoustics of the Asamkirche Maria de Victoria, Ingolstadt. Jens Hamann is compassionate in his aria, Esser degli esseri and displays good clarity in the duet, Che tento. A lovely duet, Oh più cara è a me la vita for Anna and Elcana reveals the healthy balance and timbre of these excellent voices; they depict young parents. This latter duet demonstrates Mayr’s inventive versatility when it comes to interesting musical ideas and moving colours.

This enjoyable recording is well defined and attractive in the case of the slightly recessed soloists and with a particular clarity accorded to the woodwind and string sections. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2012

That Simon Mayr could complete the substantial oratorio, Samuel, in such a short period to meet his commission has been shown as artifice by the composer. Much was, in fact, recycled material from his enormous operatic output that was already falling from public favour. Though born in Bavaria in 1763, Mayr’s artistic inclinations took him to Italy during his early twenties. First living in Venice, then in Bergamo where he taught and began his massive output as a composer in many genres, much of it aimed at the church where he could be assured of performances. On his death in 1845 his catalogue numbered 1510 works, including several oratorios, of which Samuel, from 1821, came at the onset of his blindness that brought opera composition to an end.  After more than a century of neglect, a new wave of interest in his music has recently emerged, much helped by a series of Naxos recordings. Yet when you hear this score and remember that Rossini had already composed most of his major operas, you realise how outdated Mayr had become. Place him in a previous generation, and this was skilful writing based on the biblical story of Samuel would be impressive. The present performance has a most promising first scene largely taken by the silvery voice of Susanne Bernhard, as the impending mother of Samuel, and the light and flexible tenor of Rainer Trost as her husband. More than a third of the work has passed before we first hear from Samuel, taken by the American soprano, Andrea Lauren Brown. Lightweight in quality, she deals rather more easily with ornate florid passages than the baritone, Jens Hamann, as Eli. The Ingolstadt orchestra provide more than adequate support for the conductor, Franz Hauk. Text and translations are available on the Naxos website, the booklet giving sufficient to follow the story. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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