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Allen Gimbel
American Record Guide, January 2020

In 1817 the frigate Medusa was lost off the coast of Africa on its way to Senegal. The survivors had to get on a raft and try to drift home while fighting and threatening each other, but one African-European named Jean Charles kept a diary, which was eventually turned into a painting and now an opera (or oratorio).

Performances seem fine, especially the remarkable soprano Camilla Nylund. © 2020 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Peter Quantrill
Gramophone, January 2020

This beautifully prepared recording issues the most compelling if belated of invitations to consider afresh a seminal work of the 1960s and assess how successfully it survives the circumstances of its scandalously aborted premiere.

Peter Stein is an inspired piece of casting as the narrator Charon: wry, grizzled and self-directed with every syllable, informed by decades of experience directing others. The choral contributions from both adults and children are also irreproachable, and Camilla Nylund is no less radiantly secure than Edda Moser as the personification of Death who welcomes the poor souls on the raft into her embrace, one by one. In the role of Jean-Charles, the banner-waving African crew member in Géricault’s painting and the sole survivor of the raft, Peter Schöne may sing with less inflected sophistication than Fischer-Dieskau but his delivery restrains the piece from lapsing into bathos at moments such as the arioso with children chanting Dante (now in ensemble rather than a pair of solo voices as specified and recorded by Henze). The recording from Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie may not convey the literal procession of souls across the stage as vividly as the original recording but it draws out more of Henze’s rich orchestration, electric guitar and all, and wraps the voices in a realistic concert-hall ambience. © 2020 Gramophone

Seth Colter Walls
The New York Times, December 2019

The New York Times 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

Radicalism, Revised

Hans Werner Henze tinkered with his late-’60s oratorio on global inequality, “The Raft of the Medusa” in 1990. This version lost some sloganeering and gained instrumental poetry—with an orchestration full of Henze’s florid, experimental style. © 2019 The New York Times

Dominy Clements
MusicWeb International, October 2019

There are indeed some strikingly atmospheric moments from the chorus in particular, and soprano Camilla Nylund’s range is remarkable. This is not a recording to which you can sit back and relax, but by which we should all be impressed and from which we can all learn new things.

Peter Eötvös is a touch more energetic in his conducting, bringing the whole in a good five minutes shorted than Henze… © 2019 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, October 2019

It is the choral-soloist-orchestral opus that Henze did so well. …There is a great deal of wonderful moments in the music, ultra-High Modern in ways unique to Henze, a titan in the world he walked tall within. We hear why in this recording.

…I am quite happy with the performance/work at hand as a whole after listening heavily to it. Anyone who wants to know Henze or know him better would be well-served and enlivened by this one. And it would be a valuable addition to the confirmed Henze fan's library. Recommended. © 2019 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

Kevin Filipski
The Flip Side, October 2019

Henze’s score, alternating sorrow with anger, is given a dramatic reading by conductor Peter Eötvös, who impressively marshals the array of forces at his disposal: the SWR symphony orchestra, three choirs, soloists Camilla Nylund and Peter Schöne, and speaker Peter Stein. © 2019 The Flip Side Read complete review

Andrew Clements
The Guardian, September 2019

The staged “oratorio vulgare e militare”, The Raft of the Medusa, which Hans Werner Henze provocatively dedicated to the memory of Che Guevara, caused a sensation at its premiere in Hamburg in 1968. Now, it seems a rather dated piece of musical agitprop, which certainly has its moments, alongside passages that seem tendentious and didactic. But the new recording from SWR Classics, conducted by Peter Eötvös, with Camilla Nylund as La Mort, Peter Schöne as Jean Charles and the great director Peter Stein as the narrator, makes as good a case as any for its merits. © 2019 The Guardian

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