Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

Tim Pfaff
Bay Area Reporter, December 2014

Like the La Scala Peter Grimes…and with the same tenor, John Graham-Hall, this Death in Venice took the opera out of Venice and Aldeburgh and into the universal, while also giving us what Britten had envisioned by way of Sam Zaldivar, a dancer worthy of the silent role of Tadzio. © 2014 Bay Area Reporter Read complete review

Bill White
Fanfare, September 2014

Accolades should go to stage director Deborah Warner, set designer Tom Pye, and costume designer Chloé Obolensky for the rapid, efficient scene changes and the eye-catching look of the staging.

…this handsome and well-performed ENO production certainly proves a fine way to do so. Recommended. © 2014 Fanfare Read complete review

Charles H. Parsons
American Record Guide, September 2014

BRITTEN, B.: Death in Venice (ENO, 2013) (NTSC) OA1130D
BRITTEN, B.: Death in Venice (ENO, 2013) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7141D

Graham-Hall gracefully embodies Aschenbach, quite gentle, quite tragic. Zaldivar’s Tadzio is a real eye-catcher, dancing with elan and sensitivity. Tim Mead sings a sturdy, noble Apollo. Conductor Edward Gardner leads his 13-instrument orchestra with precision and clarity. © 2014 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Richard Fairman
Gramophone, July 2014

BRITTEN, B.: Death in Venice (ENO, 2013) (NTSC) OA1130D
BRITTEN, B.: Death in Venice (ENO, 2013) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7141D

This latest release, expertly filmed by Opus Arte, is arguably the best of all. No other performance on DVD has presented the psychological dilemma posed by Thomas Mann and Britten with such intensity. © 2014 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Gwyn Parry-Jones
MusicWeb International, May 2014

Deborah Warner’s production is worthy of this magnificent work, and she has secured disciplined and stylish performances from her cast. Visually it is both stunning and haunting…

So much depends on the role of Aschenbach, and here John Graham-Hall does a fine job. It is an incredibly difficult role to sustain, but he manages it.

Britten decided that no fewer than seven parts…should be taken by one singer. Andrew Shore is superb; he manages to give each one an individuality, while maintaining a consistently sinister edge.

Tim Mead, as Apollo, is a mesmerising presence…One more fine piece of intelligent and characterful singing comes from another young Englishman, baritone Marcus Farnsworth. He takes the role of the English Clerk…

So is this the best ‘Death in Venice’ on DVD? I suspect it is, for it is very fine. For me this Opus Arte DVD is a winner. Other than see the piece in the theatre, this is the best way to be drawn into this opera’s strange and unforgettable world. © 2014 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Henson Keys
Parterre Box, May 2014

Benjamin Britten’s final opera…is given a lush and quite beautiful production from stage director Deborah Warner for the English National Opera in this Opus Arte DVD filmed in 2013. Featuring almost magical settings by Tom Pye, luminous, wind-blown fabrics and water projections lit by the heat and sun effects of the lighting by Jean Kalman, the production gives an almost perfect frame for Britten’s tale.

…the music surrounding the doings of the boy Tadzio, beautifully played and danced by the excellent Sam Zaldivar, is lustrous, sensual, athletic, and quite delicate.

Much credit goes to the superb choreography of Kim Brandstrup, capturing the spirit and zeal and athleticism of Tadzio and his group of compatriots.

The character tenor John Graham-Hall…takes the opportunity of playing a leading role here and throws himself into the character with brilliant singing, phrasing, and some committed, focused acting work.

Baritone Andrew Shore is excellent in his many roles…Besides his superb dancing skills, Zaldivar delivers a Tadzio of great and ambiguous charm in his silent role. His expressive face never gives too much or too little.

The large ensemble and the Chorus of English National Opera are admirably focused and have been finely shaped into thrilling stage pictures under Warner’s direction. Conductor Edward Gardner gives great attention to detail in bringing out the unique sounds of Britten’s score. © 2014 Parterre Box Read complete review

Robert Benson, May 2014

It is difficult to imagine a performance superior to what is viewed here in this brilliant imaginative production by Deborah Warner…John Graham Hall is extraordinary; this as the pathetic Ashenbach. This young British tenor already has sung a variety of roles…to great success. Video and audio are state-of-the-art. An outstanding DVD of an opera that challenges everyone. © 2014 Read complete review

Tim Pfaff
Bay Area Reporter, May 2014

Tenor John Graham-Hall…delivers a writer destroyed by erotic impulses he cannot withstand in a more universal, less specifically British way…less extreme of manner and mannerism, more extreme in embodiment of his feelings. He’s an Aschenbach you sympathize with from the start. In Deborah Warner’s wonderfully transparent production, his second trip to the barber really does yield a more handsome man…and Tadzio’s subtle registering of the difference, and its meaning, are typical of this production’s fine sensibility.

Andrew Shore, a much-used Wagner Alberich these days, is the soul of invention in the half-dozen realistic roles he has in Myfanwy Piper’s libretto, equally affecting as nemesis, lackey and spirit guide. Countertenor Tim Mead, as Apollo…is handsome and liquid…

…the “minor” parts for women…are sung with individuality and affectingly, particularly Madeleine Shaw’s Beggar Woman, understated but providing a powerful, grounding contrast in this world of see-through Venetian luxury. Designer Tom Pye’s open, atmospheric sets capture Venice and the Lido with a minimum of strokes, and Jean Kalman’s lighting makes it pulse.

Edward Gardner…finds the shimmer in every facet of this spare but vividly refracted score. Britten’s late-period, gamelan-style writing for the dance sequences can go off in the wrong hands, but Gardner sneaks them into the absorbing instrumental textures almost unnoticed. The dancing, all by young men in this production, is transfixing. © 2014 Bay Area Reporter Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2014

BRITTEN, B.: Death in Venice (ENO, 2013) (NTSC) OA1130D
BRITTEN, B.: Death in Venice (ENO, 2013) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7141D

To celebrate the centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth, two productions of Death in Venice were staged in England, this one coming from the English National Opera. The two were distinctly similar in appearance and the desire to recreate the scene as Britten would have wanted, the elegant dress rekindling life in 1911. The cast is very good, John Graham-Hall’s voice having warmed in the opening soliloquising it goes on to give a very moving and potent picture of a much disturbed author. Andrew Shore is equally excellent in the seven cameo roles the composer gave to the one singer. From therein no one has a major singing role, the orchestra, in fine form, continually creating musical pictures of the events on stage, with the conductor, Edward Gardner, keeping the story moving with a degree of urgency. Deborah Warner’s production is visually gorgeous, the brightly lit blue sky of the Lido making for a contrast to Aschenbach’s inner dark emotions. In sum, this is one of the finest opera videos I have seen, the picture quality is outstanding, while the sound—which also comes in surround sound—is exemplary, the video director, Ross MacGibbon, having achieved a perfect blend of close-up and distance shots. © 2014 David’s Review Center

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group