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Tim Ashley
Gramophone, July 2017

Fisch aims for headiness but avoids blatancy. Rhythms pulse and throb, and the Hispanic turns of melody often have a pointed suavity that hints at innuendo. The orchestral sound, all plush strings and warm woodwind, is beguilingly opulent, but might not appeal to those who see Ravel primarily in terms of restraint and clarity. There’s a languorous feel to it all, which says much about the relationship between pace and tempo in Fisch’s conducting, since he’s by no means slower than his rivals.

The singers play it straight without resorting to caricature. The results are often nicely ambivalent, …Alexandre Duhamel reveals striking levels of tenderness beneath Ramiro’s rough exterior, Mathias Vidal is unusually endearing as fussy Torquemada and Gaëlle Arquez’s glamorous Concepción has a wonderful line in understated obscenity: ‘Cet homme est doué!’, almost thrown away yet riddled with meaning, is priceless. © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



Michael Cookson
MusicWeb International, June 2017

This is a performance that draws me in to Ravel’s atmospheric sound world.

Mathias Vidal as the gullible clockmaker Torquemada easily produces his firm, warm tenor with notably clear diction.

Torquemada’s licentious wife Concepción is sung by the expressive mezzo-soprano Gaëlle Arquez, who reveals a rich low and middle range, …Especially enjoyable is Concepción’s monologue Oh! la pitoyable aventure! This is sung with real passion and character.

Love-struck poet Gonzalve is performed by Julien Behr with his attractive, smooth tenor, not over bright, demonstrating his ability to climb smoothly to his high register.

Mature-sounding baritone Alexandre Duhamel sings the role of brawny muleteer Ramiro with an impressively weighty yet smooth tone.

[Asher Fisch] conducting the Münchner Rundfunkorchester, underlines the rhythmic element and orchestral detail of Ravel’s writing, producing an engaging performance of considerable Iberian colour and atmosphere. The playing is top drawer throughout with especially notable contributions from the prominent woodwind and percussion sections. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Lynn René Bayley
The Art Music Lounge, March 2017

Listening to this performance after hearing excerpts of the Maazel recording shows an entirely different style. Whereas Maazel’s conducting is all smoothness and elegance, Asher Fisch emphasizes the music’s rhythmic elements, bringing out far more detail in the orchestration and much livelier interpretations out of his singers. Of course, the latter signifies a significant shift in performance style of French vocal music, a shift that began in the early 1950s… It was a shift (which had been gradually inching that way for a couple of decades) away from just singing the words “straight,” with no inflections or interpretation (in French chanson as well as in opera) to more of a style of acting with the voice. When Maazel’s recording was made in 1965, only Bacquier was in the new style of singing-actor. In this live performance, everyone is in the swing of things, and the result is one of the most delightful and entertaining performances I’ve ever heard.

…this is a splendid recording and performance, possibly a new benchmark for this poor little neglected gem of an opera. © 2017 The Art Music Lounge Read complete review





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