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Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress /Gardiner, Bostridge, Terfel

Album Summary

>Stravinsky, Igor : Rake's Progress
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Bostridge, Terfel, von Otter, Gardiner: The leading vocal stars and conductor off our time join forces in a gripping new recording of one of this century's great operas. "The Rake's Progress", a neo-classical work of astonishing lyricism, energy and wit, was recorded with the London Symphony in 1997 in conjunction with semi-staged performances at London's Barbican Centre.

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
Gardiner's Rake's Progress, in all but one respect, easily withstands comparison with its five rivals, and in several it surpasses them; if you're happy with Terfel's Nick Shadow, it can be set alongside Stravinsky's own 1964 recording as the finest available. Gardiner is conscious throughout that this is a chamber opera, and the orchestral textures are outstandingly clean and transparent, the rhythmic pointing crisp but airy. This enables his cast to give a fast-moving, conversational account of the text, with every word crystal- clear (including those from the chorus) and no need for any voice to force. This benefits the soprano and tenor especially.

Deborah York, sounds a very young and touchingly vulnerable Anne; her voice may seem a little pale, but there's pathos as well as brilliance in her Act 1 aria, and the desolation of her reaction to Tom's marriage to Baba the Turk ('I see, then: it was I who was unworthy') is moving. Ian Bostridge is the best Tom Rakewell since Alexander Young in Stravinsky's recording: he too sounds likeably youthful, sings with intelligence and sweetness of tone and acts very well.

Howells is an unexaggerated Mother Goose, and von Otter's economy of comic gesture is a marvel. 'Finish, if you please, whatever business is detaining you with this person' receives the full Lady Bracknell treatment from most mezzos; von Otter gives it the vocal equivalent of a nose wrinkled in well-bred disdain. Terfel often demonstrates that he can fine his big voice down to the subtlety of the other principals, and when he does he's a formidably dangerous, insinuating Shadow.

But almost as often he not only lets the voice rip but indulges in histrionics quite uncharacteristic of the performance as a whole. You may not mind: why after all should the Devil restrainedly under-act? At times, though, he sounds bigger than the orchestra. The recording is close but theatrically atmospheric. There are a few sound effects, though some may find the raucous owl in the graveyard scene distracting.


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Works Details

>Stravinsky, Igor : Rake's Progress
  • Performers: Ian Bostridge (Voice); Peter Bronder (Tenor); Julian Clarkson (Bass); Anne Howells (Mezzo Soprano); Anthony Legge (Harpsichord); Martin Robson (Bass); Bryn Terfel (Voice); Anne von Otter (Mezzo Soprano); Doborah York (Voice)
  • Conductor: John Gardiner
  • Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1951