Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

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

Album Reviews



 
See latest reviews of other albums...

David J. Baker
Opera News, July 2017

Hans Graf, music director of the Houston Symphony, is not particularly associated with opera, and this live Wozzeck with his orchestra and Houston Grand Opera may remind you of that. The opera’s urgency and refinements are most keenly felt from the direction of the pit. While some of the singing is also memorable, the real pulse of the performance is in the instrumental solos, such as the violin’s in the opening scene and the massed tutti effects. They include the big tavern scene, with its wild stage-band that seems about to fly out of control, or the grand, summarizing orchestral interlude before the final scene. The clearly articulated recorded sound contributes to an impact that is often remarkably vivid. © 2017 Opera News Read complete review



Colin Clarke
Fanfare, July 2017

Vocally, the performance belongs to the towering figure of Anne Schwanewilms.

The Andres is taken with splendid nonchalance by Robert McPherson.

…this is a terrifically imposing performance that grips from the very first. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review



James H. North
Fanfare, July 2017

Anne Schwanewilms, the great Strauss soprano, is a marvelous Marie, her golden soprano ringing out whether Marie is bewailing her hard lot in life, singing to her child, or succumbing to the Drum Major. …The supporting roles are well handled, dramatically and vocally…

Excellent recorded sound brings us a major symphony orchestra playing in a warm, lush acoustic. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review



Huntley Dent
Fanfare, July 2017

In the title role, German baritone Roman Trekel sets the standard with perfect diction and a vocal performance that makes easy work of music once considered daunting in its difficulty.

Marie is a part often given to mature dramatic sopranos later in their careers, so it’s unusual that a prominent Mozart-Strauss soprano like Anne Schwanewilms brings such a lustrous voice to it. She roughens her tone somewhat, but I would count a beautiful-sounding Marie as a plus. Schwanewilms’s portrayal is tender and without an edge of desperation. She sings the notes rather than adding more than a shade of speech. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review



Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, May 2017

Roman Trekel in the role of Wozzeck, Anne Schwanewilms as Marie and Marc Molomot as Captain Hauptmann are convincing both dramatically and musically. The orchestra brings us a full, well-rounded interpretation, not perhaps as edgy as Boulez but fully in tune with the score and its remarkable fitness to the drama.

There are several moments in the opera that I have found remarkable in themselves. The whistling, the out-of-tune piano in the bar-room scene and the final scene with children playing and singing in chilling contrast to the brutal murder that marks the climax of the opera. © 2017 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review



David Reynolds
American Record Guide, May 2017

[Roman Trekel] is a fine vocal actor. He sings Berg’s tortured vocal lines as accurately as anyone I’ve heard without ranting or screaming. The fact that he is a native German speaker helps him tremendously in this very declamatory role. Anne Schwanewilms not only acts Marie well, but sings her music beautifully—rare in a role that sometimes is cast with a soprano well past her vocal prime. Her Bible-reading scene at the beginning of Act III is piercing in its intensity. Schwanewilms easily nails the high C here and elsewhere. Marc Molomot and Nathan Berg make the Captain and Doctor’s music sound musical without losing the stinging parody that colors so much of their scenes together and with Wozzeck. The other singers are all excellent and make more of their parts than many another recording I’ve heard. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide




Robert Levine
ClassicsToday.com, April 2017

Conductor Hans Graf and his Houston forces, in this live performance, have not shied away from the work’s atonal difficulties; in fact they are almost spoon-fed by him and his engineers. …this performance is so spotless that the work’s cruelty is missing.

…much of the singing is sensational. Roman Trekel is an ideal, light-voiced, dark-thinking Wozzeck, his diction flawless, observance of the sung vs. sprechstimme passages correct. And he sounds purposely weak and unbalanced, and more so as the opera continues: it’s visceral. Anne Schwanewilms is a magnificent Marie, one whose sensuality and plight are felt from the start—the boredom, the anger, the loneliness, and the sweetness too; the Bible reading is still and lovely. Her voice is in great shape, with the high Cs no problem.

Katherine Ciesinski is probably the best—and trashiest—Margret on disc, and the fact that she is recorded so closely helps. …Brenton Ryan’s ‘Narr’ and Robert McPherson’s Andres are vivid. Nathan Berg’s Doktor is a pip of a lunatic. The orchestra plays stunningly, as mentioned, and the choruses are superb in their big, multi-layered scenes. © 2017 ClassicsToday.com Read complete review




Alain Steffen
Pizzicato, March 2017

With an outstanding orchestral playing and superior singing: baritone Roman Trekel is a gripping Wozzeck and Anne Schwanewilms one of the best Marie performers on disc. © 2017 Pizzicato




Peter Quantrill
Gramophone, March 2017

The most memorable vocal impression is left by Anne Schwanewilms, who brings distinct and theatrical ideas about Marie to the concert platform.

Schwanewilms’s portrayal would be less out of scale opposite a husband more monstrous than Roman Trekel. This Wozzeck is more sung, and evenly so, than most rivals on record; he travels through scenes like a noble savage, roused to fearful but always musical rage by the taunting of his superiors and jealousy of his wife.

The supporting cast is strong, though Nathan Berg (the Doctor) and Katherine Ciesinski (luxury casting in the tiny role of Margret) stand out as vividly drawn, uncaricatured vocal actors.  © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



Steph Power
BBC Music Magazine, March 2017

Performance:
Recording:

This live, 2013 concert performance by the Houston Symphony, under their then outgoing musical director Hans Graf, benefits from a stellar cast.

…while the performance overall is short on disturbing inevitability, it exudes textural fascination: much attention is paid to orchestral detail, and Berg’s complex rhythmic polyphony in particular is lucidly rendered. © 2017 BBC Music Magazine




Gwyn Parry-Jones
MusicWeb International, February 2017

…this is unquestionably a worthy addition to the library; a powerful overall achievement, including one truly great performance. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Tim Pfaff
Bay Area Reporter, February 2017

…the cast, including some starry names, responds with strongly committed performances. If it all comes off something less than incandescent, that’s likely owing to the fact that these musicians are veterans in many senses of the term.

Roman Trekel’s Wozzeck is, gratefully, the clearest and best sung… © 2017 Bay Area Reporter Read complete review



Joseph Newsome
Voix des Arts, January 2017

German baritone Roman Trekel is a Wozzeck with a Lieder singer’s suavity and sensitivity, recalling the Wozzeck of his countryman Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau but bringing to Berg’s music a tougher, more rugged natural instrument and a notion of the rôle defined more by machismo than by metaphysics. …The very different demands of the dialogues with first Marie and then the Doktor in the ensuing scenes are met with commendable comprehension of the consequence of their dramatic volatility.

It is indicative of the adaptive artistry of this cast that, with the addition of a pair of capable sopranos, they might constitute a near-perfect ensemble for Richard Strauss’s Arabella. If this suggests that the voices in this performance are plusher than those in many Wozzecks, it is a valid suggestion. The voices are, in fact, the glory of this Wozzeck. They are the pith of a performance in which the many beauties of Berg’s score are permitted to cast their spells on the listener, shattering the stigmas of atonality and Sprechgesang. …There can be no single definitive Wozzeck, but this is a brilliant one in which the music appeals as powerfully as the drama appalls. © 2017 Voix des Arts Read complete review




Kate Molleson
The Guardian, January 2017

…the singing is gripping: baritone Roman Trekel is one of today’s top Wozzecks, full-on and volatile, his violence cracked with frailty, and Anne Schwanewilms plays Marie with devastating dignity. © 2017 The Guardian Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2017

No matter how many times I see Berg’s Wozzeck on stage, I am profoundly disturbed at the degradation of this rather simple minded soldier driven to murder. He has had a one-sided love affair with Marie, with whom he has had a child, and now she is not hiding her feelings towards the swaggering drum major, while those around Wozzeck taunt him about Marie’s infidelity. He eventually kills her as they walk by the side of a pond, and later returning to get the knife with which he murdered her, he sees the water as if turned to blood and drowns either by accident or intent, the final scene picturing the innocent child, now left parent-less, playing with other children not knowing of his loss. Listening to a recording without the stage action lessen the viciousness as the tragedy unfolds, though when placed in the hands of a cast of actor-singers, it still readily communicates the story. The rather tight quality of the baritone voice of Roman Trekel is ideal for the contorted thoughts of this pathetic man who is at the base of society, while my favourite Richard Strauss singer, Anne Schwanewilms, is the woman at the centre of the story. As the Doctor, who persuades Wozzeck to earn money by taking part in his medical experiments, Nathan Berg is an ideal mix of smooth persuasion and hackling insistence, and I much enjoyed the outsize characterisation of Marc Molomot as the Captain in the opening scene. Well taken cameo roles from Gordon Gietz as the Drum-major and Robert McPherson as Andres. The recording, made at two concert performances in March 2013, has the singers placed close to microphones, which solves the problem stated in contemporary reviews, where they found singers overwhelmed when conductor, Hans Graf, unleashed torrents of sound. As such the excellent Houston Symphony make more of the cruel aspects than the Vienna Philharmonic engender in three of the alternative versions. There is an earlier Naxos recording (8.660076-77) made at a performance on stage in the Stockholm Opera in 2000, which the Gramophone magazine described as “a giant among Wozzeck recordings”, a comment to which I would totally concur. There you feel a greater sense of pity for Carl Johan Falkman’s Wozzeck, while Katarina Dalayman’s Marie sounds far less stretched than Schwanewilms. On the other hand the lesser roles are generally characterised more sharply on this new release. It all becomes very much a case of personal choice, though for me the feel of a theatrical experience would swing the balance in Stockholm’s favour, while for others the absence of stage noises would place the newcomer as their first choice. Whichever you take, these are outstanding performances. Now how about Berg’s Lulu from Houston? © 2017 David’s Review Corner





Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group