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Jens F Laurson
Ionarts, December 2018

Best Recordings of 2018 (New Releases)

Fabio Luisi, who seems never to have been more at home in a post than at the Zurich Opera and with its Philharmonia Zurich, provides the keenly felt, sensitive musical painting for the backdrop upon which Okka von der Damerau gives one of the most striking vocal performances I have heard on disc in a long time. With calm radiance she makes you take every step with the protagonist. The result is, in a word, ravishing. © 2018 Ionarts Read complete review

William R. Braun
Opera News, February 2018

The ensemble players (taken from the house band of Oper Zürich), led by Fabio Luisi, provide prophetic bell tones, an oracular trombone solo and extreme octave doublings…

The soloist, Okka von der Damerau, is billed as a contralto, but her voice is magnificent in all registers, topped by an easy, Sieglinde-tinged openness in the soprano range. She resists the current, sad tendency of singers almost to speak in moments of drama rather than sing the notes, making a greater effect when she occasionally uses this type of expression. She has a great gift for narration, accentuating the way Martin’s text-setting often brings to mind Ravel’s Shéhérazade. Without doing anything too overt or moment-to-moment, she holds together the entire hour of music. © 2018 Opera News Read complete review

Gil French
American Record Guide, January 2018

The Zurich Philharmonia is the orchestra of the Zurich Opera, of which Fabio Luisi has been music director since 2012, and it sounds as richly nuanced and expressive as Damerau, from whisper soft to battle- and ecstasy-driven powerful. In fact, I’ve never heard Luisi sound as all-consumed in any of his broadcasts from the Met as he is here. Soloist and conductor are hand-in-glove. © 2018 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Rick Perdian
MusicWeb International, October 2017

Luisi and his orchestra masterfully capture Martin’s vivid musical depiction of the Cornet’s innermost thoughts and experiences. The beat of the drum and the fife’s shrill whistle intermingle with lush, colorful orchestrations and jarring outbursts of dissonance. Each musical phrase is perfectly placed, whether accompanying the narrative, setting the mood, or seamlessly segueing from one scene to another.

Von der Damerau is a regular at the Bayerische Staatsoper and appears in opera and concert in Europe and America. I have never heard her live, but what struck me in this recording was the evenness of her voice across its entire range. The low notes are full and rich, but she approaches them effortlessly and without sacrificing either the timbre or color of her beautiful middle range, where much of the vocal line sits. In what is essentially a long narrative, von der Damerau displays an exquisite sensitivity to the text, leaving the listener spellbound by the young Cornet’s story. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

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