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Ronald E. Grames
Fanfare, March 2015

The performance is gripping. The 12 musicians of the chamber ensemble respond with vivid musical characterization and impressive virtuosity to Maxwell Davies’s often immoderate demands. All three soloists handle the challenging vocal assignments brilliantly, creating characters—admirable, mysterious, or repulsive—with subtlety and passion.

Lovers of compelling modern opera who missed the first issue should certainly take advantage of this affordable Naxos reissue. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review



Allen Gimbel
American Record Guide, November 2014

Performances of this difficult music are excellent. © 2014 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



Joshua Rosenblum
Opera News, October 2014

Maxwell Davies’s wizardly orchestration is superbly illustrative, with squalling woodwinds, accented string tremolos and lightning-quick marimba figures bringing the macabre story vividly to life. When one officer says “Fingers of mist, clammy, unnatural, reached down from the tower toward us,” a craggy string line seems to do exactly that.

…it’s well worth buying this CD and enjoying the dénouement yourself. Comboy, Keyte and Mackie…bring their characters to vivid life with powerful, extroverted singing and impressive musicianship; the roles are very demanding, both dramatically and musically. Under the composer’s direction, the orchestra, composed of members of the BBC Philharmonic, churns with musical description. © 2014 Opera News Read complete review



Mark Sealey
MusicWeb International, August 2014

One of the first things that may strike you on listening to Peter Maxwell Davies’ chamber opera, The Lighthouse, is just how much purposeful variety the composer revels in. The way the story is told is not just sparse.

…Maxwell Davies’ treatment of the utterly mysterious episode is direct, compelling and potentially as disturbing as any such event…at one point in the production, as the orchestral score reaches a climax, the beam of the lighthouse is turned to maximum and directed into the audience to heighten the sense of disaster and danger.

This live recording on Naxos is of a single performance in February 1994 at the Royal Northern College of Music…It includes Neil Mackie as Sandy, the first officer who sang in the première in Edinburgh in 1980. Each of these three male leads is excellent…

Particularly effective in this recording is the extent to which singers and players manage the ambiguities, the blurred boundaries between probable fact and probable imagination.

There is further symbolism—in the song that Arthur sings, and the Tower of the Tarot and cards. This could all have been handled heavily and self-consciously but here was not. This is not surprising since the composer conducts. This is the only recording of The Lighthouse currently in the catalogue…The performers have done it proud and bring out those layers in an idiomatic and highly successful way. © 2014 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Steven Bergman
EDGE on the Net, July 2014

Davies artistically paints the blurry, frightening world of The Lighthouse, and the three singers masterfully handle both the tonal writing of the three men’s songs, and the atonal speak-singing that is prominent throughout much of Davies’ composing. © 2014 EDGE on the Net Read complete review



Stephen Smoliar
Examiner.com, July 2014

…as a conductor Maxwell Davies has a keen sense of evoking the dramatic connotations that reside in the music itself. This is a recording that will probably inspire curiosity among those who have not seen the opera staged and revive salient memories among those who have. © 2014 Examiner.com Read complete review



Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, June 2014

The performance is a very good one, a reissue of Maxwell Davies conducting members of the BBC Philharmonic with Neil Mackie, Christopher Keyte and Ian Comboy in great form as the vocal protagonists.

The Lighthouse is…a gripping story, the libretto written imaginatively by Maxwell Davies, with plenty of room for a macabre scenario that has music of great descriptive power.

It is a gem of a work that unfolds more vividly with each hearing. And it gives you Maxwell Davies the modernist of dramatic tension. Every bar of music serves to illuminate the feeling of rusticity and supernatural doom inherent in the plot.

Recommended! © 2014 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review




Paul Corfield Godfrey
MusicWeb International, June 2014

The recording was made at a live performance, but the audience are impeccably well-behaved and the excellent sound has clearly been well judged. The diction of all the singers is highly commendable and most of the words are clearly delivered even when Maxwell Davies’ chamber orchestra is at its most strident. Neil Mackie was at the time something of a specialist in the composer’s works, and throws himself into his role with the utmost conviction. Christopher Keyte made his career in more conventional repertoire, but sounds thoroughly at home. Ian Comboy mouths his religious platitudes with relish, and manages his excursions into falsetto with aplomb… The variety of sound that Maxwell Davies conjures from a mere fourteen players is amazing.

…the re-appearance of this dramatic opera in a blistering performance is cause for rejoicing in its own right.

Of the original documentation, only the text is not given in the packaging, and this is available online from the Naxos website. One does however wish that the cover illustration could actually have shown the Flannan Isles lighthouse and not some other more generic and seemingly more modern construction. © 2014 MusicWeb International Read complete review




Malcolm Hayes
BBC Music Magazine, June 2014

Even without the visuals, the work’s taut pacing and sharp-focus invention grip the imagination from start to finish. All three cast members excel, taking Maxwell Davies’s liking for passages of falsetto yowling in their stride; and the instrumental playing is incisively superb. © 2014 BBC Music Magazine



David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2014

Peter Maxwell Davies’s spooky one-act opera relates the true story of three lighthouse men who disappeared in December 1900 and no one ever found them. For his opera Maxwell Davies begins with the text taken from the official enquiry, followed by songs sung by the three lighthouse keepers that give something of their background that could explain a possible joint suicide. It is here recorded for the first time, the performance coming from a concert at Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music in 1994 conducted by the composer. Scored for three male soloists and a small chamber orchestra, it is the orchestral french horn that acts as the questioner in the enquire, the vocal response making clear the question being asked. There follows a long section, ‘The Cry of the Beast’, picturing a scene between the three men, the cry of the beast being the persistent noise of the foghorn that could have driven the men crazy, particularly when the bad weather had created a far longer period in the lighthouse than they had expected. The singing is very good throughout…Excellent sound… © 2014 David’s Review Corner





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