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Ralph P Locke
American Record Guide, December 2017

The Concepcion, Gaëlle Arquez, has a fuller voice than Stephanie d’Oustrac, yet is at least as alert to the quick shifts in the character’s moods and impulses. I hope we get to hear Arquez in more recordings. Mathias Vidal is a real heroic light tenor, if that phrase makes any sense. His reading offers quite a contrast to the thinnish character-tenor sound produced on the Stuttgart recording—very effectively and skillfully, I admit—by Jean-Paul Fouchecourt. Alexandre Duhamel repeats his Ramiro, now conveying more of what the seemingly dim-witted mule-driver is feeling. Julien Behr is a marvelous Gonsalve, singing with a bit more youthful flair and energy than the fine Yann Beuron. And Lionel Lhote sings at least as well as Paul Gay and points his lines more emphatically, without ever sacrificing vocal beauty. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Clive Paget
Limelight, November 2017

This superbly detailed reading from the Munich Radio Orchestra is helmed by West Australian Symphony Orchestra Principal Conductor Asher Fisch, who here proves as skilled a hand with the French Impressionists as he is with the German Romantics. The score shimmers and sashays, whether representing Torquemada’s ticking clocks or the lazy heat of a sultry Spanish afternoon. Fisch proves especially adept at teasing out the little musical witticisms like Ravel’s priapic glissandi that seem to have a mind of their own.

The cast are all first rate, as nimble with the text as they are on the money with the music. Gaëlle Arquez is sexy and smart as the unfaithful wife, with a lovely, rich yet never overbearing soprano. Mathias Vidal has that classic French tenor elegance as her cuckolded husband, with Julien Behr a knockout as the puffed up poet Gonzalve and Lionel Lhote suitably stolid as the fat banker who gets wedged in a grandfather clock. Alexandre Duhamel is the epitome of a vocal stud as the well-endowed muleteer. © 2017 Limelight Read complete review

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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