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Verdi: Otello / Colin Davis

Album Summary

>Verdi, Giuseppe : Otello
Performers Conductor Ensemble
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Notes & Reviews:

Sir Colin Davis' eagerly anticipated recording of Verdi's Otello is released on the 10th anniversary of the LSO Live label. Opera has always formed an important part of the label's output. Among Sir Colin Davis' greatest triumphs on LSO Live have been his award-winning recordings of Berlioz and Verdi's fi nal opera, Falstaff. Falstaff was released in 2004 and won a Grammy® Award for Best Opera. For the title role, Davis is joined by one of the world's most exciting young tenors. New Zealander Simon O'Neill stepped in at short notice, making his debut in the role, delivering what can only be described as an astonishing performance. The villainous Iago is played by Gerald Finley and Otello's wife Desdemona by Anne Schwanewilms. Otello, which was premiered in 1887, marked a signifi cant evolutionary development in Italian opera and is widely regarded as one of the great operatic masterpieces.

"This was an electrifying account of a masterpiece, conducted with an explosive energy that belies Sir Colin's eighty years and pushed the LSO to the top of its game. Simon O'Neill made a tremendous debut in the title-role, giving notice that he is the best heroic tenor to emerge over the last decade. Verdi's great music drama shone in all its power and glory." -The Daily Telegraph

"Age has not dimmed Davis’s musical vitality, any more than it did Verdi’s...Davis inspires the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus to a performance of vigour and refinement, and it’s for their contribution – and Gerald Finley’s suave, stylish Iago – that this recording stands out." -The Financial Times

"Everything contributes to accentuating extremes: Colin Davis gets the LSO, in shattering form, to play chords like cannon shots...The two male leads are superb: Simon O'Neill is the most complete Otello since Domingo...Finley's debut as Iago is also a great reading - the most chilling I have ever heard." -BBC Music Magazine

"Throughout, [O'Neill's] clarion tone is thrilling. But the heroes are Gerald Finley, a supremely malignant Iago, the superb orchestra and chorus, and Colin Davis, who makes the terror and pity of the opera almost unbearably vivid. This is an Otello to rank with Davis’s LSO Live Falstaff" -The Sunday Times

"Finley gives a masterly account of [Iago], his voice seemingly transfigured by the Italian music and language...his singing - firm and resonant - is scarcely to be bettered on record...O'Neill is an unusual Otello in that he is so unequivocally a tenor, with no hint of baritone in his timbre...the playing is alert and sensitive to drama and text." -Gramophone

"Finley is suave, his experience in Lieder showing in detailed enunciation and delivery of the text...Clayton is bright-toned and much less wimpy than some Cassios; you could appreciate how Otello promoted him over Iago...In spite of the lack of Italianate voices, O'Neill's heroic singing and Davis's unexpectedly fiery conducting still make this a satisfying account of Verdi's miraculous score." -International Record Review

"A spellbinding account, thanks to O’Neill, Anne Schwanewilms’s Desdemona and Gerald Finley’s Jago, but above all to Colin Davis’s warm, urgent but never forced interpretation" -The Observer

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Barbican, London (12/01/2009-12/06/2009).


Great singing, but the orchestra comes first
This recording beautifully captures the atmosphere of the performance. But the performance was an upstaged concert presentation of an opera, so the listener is at least two steps removed from the experience of seeing the opera. The orchestra are on top form and sound great in SACD, but top honours go to Finley and O'Neill, a dream pairing for the main roles: http://www.classical-cd-reviews.com/2010/10/otello-lso-colin-davis.html
Submitted on 11/20/10 by Gavin Dixon 
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Works Details

>Verdi, Giuseppe : Otello
  • Performers: Allan Clayton (Tenor); Gerald Finley (Bass Baritone); Ben Johnson; Matthew Rose (Bass)
  • Conductor: Colin Davis
  • Notes: Barbican, London (12/01/2009-12/06/2009)
  • Running Time: 96 min. 3 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1887