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Verdi, Giuseppe: Macbeth CD CHANDOS 2014



Macbeth: Simon Keenlyside
Lady Macbeth: Latonia Moore
Macduff: Gwyn Hughes Jones
Banquo: Brindley Sherratt
Malcolm: Ben Johnson
Lady Macbeth’s Lady in Waiting: Elizabeth Llewellyn
English National Opera Orchestra
Conductor: Edward Gardner OBE

Catalogue No: CHAN3180(2)
Series: Opera in English
Discs: 2
Release date: 31st March 2014
Barcode: 0095115318058
Medium: CD

Some information about the recording

Sound Bites

Geoff Brown, The Times, 4.4.2014

4 stars

” … The singers also know what they’re doing. Simon Keenlyside, a veteran of the Royal Opera House’s 2011 stagings, presents a changing psychological portrait of the lure of power and evil in the title role. At first he sounds conflicted, uncertain. But one murder hardens him and Keenlyside’s tone expands alongside Macbeth ‘s resolve. Luckily, Chandos includes the opera’s original ending as a bonus, so Macbeth gets his death scene spotlight after all, crumpling alone at the mic. …”

Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 24.4.14

4 stars

” … In a theatrical acoustic, Simon Keenlyside has sounded somewhat stretched by the title-role, but in front of a microphone he gives a commanding interpretation of a soldier driven by a combination of ambition and conscience, rendered with firm tone. …”

Hugh Canning, Sunday Times, 11 May 2014

“This last in Chandos’s Opera in English series, sponsored by Peter Moores, reveals Gardner as a world class Verdian, whose orchestra and chorus bear comparison to the finest Italian ensembles. Simon Keenlyside’s rugged thane may sound dry by the side of great native interpreters, but works for Jeremy Sams’s lucid translation. …”

George Hall, BBC Music Magazine June 2014

4 star for Performance
4 star for Recording

” … The rest is special. Simon Keenlyside explores the title role in depth, offering a huge variety of expression and fulfilling the potential of Verdi’s notes to reveal minute nuances of character and situation; his nervous usurper of the Scottish throne is an extremely powerful portrayal.”

Hugo Shirley,Gramophone, June 2014

“… Simon Keenlyside, opposite her (Latonia Moore), doesn’t command the richness of timbre and sheer vocal authority of a a true Verdi baritone. He has the notes, though, and the performance cannot be faulted for integrity and commitment, and benefits from his experience of the role in the opera house. …”

” … And now Chandos signs off with a hard-to-believe sixty-second release in the series and a real coup it is, having persuaded the immensely gifted Simon Keenlyside to commit his Macbeth to disc (the Covent Garden performance of 2011, in Italian, is available on DVD). I confess to having harboured doubts about Keenlyside’s expansion into the heavy Verdi repertoire. Heard live as Rodrigo in Don Carlo in 2010, he seemed to have reached the limits of his vocal capacity and I had misgivings about his assuming the role of Rigoletto for the first time in Vienna in 2013. Fortunately no strain is evident in his Macbeth as recorded here: it is not a vibrant Italianate sound and his studiously correct articulation of the text sometimes makes him sound like an English gentleman. To compensate, the absence of any vocal problems enables him to play to the strengths familiar from his art-song renditions. So we are reminded that he possesses a handsome legato line alongside the ability to deploy a wide range of vocal colours, to make the words tell powerfully and to convey the physical aspects of the role. The aria ‘Pieta, rispetto, amore’ is smoothly voiced but his best operatic moments come in the dynamic passages, above all in the equivalent to Shakespeare’s ‘dagger’ monologue. This is as good a piece of expressive arioso as Rigoletto’s ‘Parisiamo’, its contrasted sections cleanly subtly demarcated in Keenlyside’s interpretation. Macbeth is first confused, then increasingly panicky as the phantom weapon takes charge of him. In ‘See how your blade is bathed with bright streams of crimson’ his mezza voce suggests growing fascination. He tries to dismiss it with an Iago-like snarl (“Now I see it’s nothing”), but still he is unable to shake off the spell as he pictures the assassin going about his business, delivered with the vocal intensity of an incantation. A perfectly controlled soft E-flat above middle C opens the phrase “Motionless earth, do not echo to my footsteps” and this kaleidoscope of subtle vocal colours finally opens out into a straightforward decision to act in the powerful cadential phrase. …”
Robert Thicknesse, Opera Now September 2014
3 stars
“…As you’d expect, Simon Keenlyside brings a Lieder-singer’s sensitivity to Macbeth, coarsening the voice but bringing the man’s buried good qualities through – a fine performance (the banquet scene capturing some true essence of terror) by the only singer who genuinely engages with the words in Jeremy Sams’ not-amazing translation……”
” … Simon Keenlyside is already well represented as Macbeth in Italian from Covent Garden on video. He’s not a Verdi baritone by birthright but does manage to parse his lyric instrument adequately to the task at hand. At this stage in the career he knows more than anyone his own limitations and strengths.  He’s excellent in pointing the English text and is wonderfully varied in dynamic which includes a prickling parlando in the “dagger” aria.

I do disagree with the very occasional use of an unattractive straight tone which I feel robs the listener’s concentration from the lyrics and him of his communication. He does do a restrained, evil chuckle during his conversation with Lady M. about murdering Banquo’s family which I enjoyed immensely. His voice is still uncommonly beautiful at times, especially factoring his age into the equation, and his hushed lead-in to the banquet scene is equal parts of malevolence and refinement. …”

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