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Barber: Vanessa / Slatkin, Graham, Brewer, Et Al

Release Date: 11/09/2004 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 5032   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Samuel Barber
Performer:  Susan GrahamCatherine Wyn-RogersWilliam BurdenSimon Birchall,   ... 
Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC SingersBBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 2 Mins. 

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SuperAudio CD:  $39.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

This new Vanessa replaces both the 1958 recording of the original four-act version of the opera and the recent Naxos release of the 1964 three-act revision (which is used here as well) as the recording of choice for this opera. (For a review of the Naxos, please type Q7191 in Search Reviews). In brief, Susan Graham is the finest Erika on disc, inhabiting the role with impeccable diction, beautiful tone, and great feeling, reaching deep into the character's complexities. Tenor William Burden out-performs even Nicolai Gedda as Anatol, singing with such elegance, melting tone, and scrupulousness to
Read more Barber's dynamic markings that it is easy to see why both women would fall for him. Eleanor Steber (on RCA, 1958) remains the supreme Vanessa, her voice somewhat lighter than the competition, and also more lovely, but big-toned Christine Brewer here is remarkable, expressing true anxiety before and true horror after her first meeting with Anatol. And the way she thaws into loving him is truly vivid. Catherine Wyn-Rogers as the Old Baroness is properly imperious, and the rest of the cast is excellent.

It's all too easy for this opera to turn maudlin, like a daytime soap opera, but the artists here sing with such poise, dignity, and natural exclamation that we follow them in real time, and the somewhat stilted language of Menotti's libretto never gets in the way. Conductor Leonard Slatkin, in this studio recording that followed a concert performance in London, finds all the glamour in Barber's ripe score while allowing the climaxes and eventual fade-out their true tragic proportions. The recording is perfect, and almost every word--and plenty of orchestral detail--is audible. Sensational! [1/5/2005]
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Vanessa, Op. 32 by Samuel Barber
Performer:  Susan Graham (Mezzo Soprano), Catherine Wyn-Rogers (Mezzo Soprano), William Burden (Tenor),
Simon Birchall (Bass Baritone), Neal Davies (Bass Baritone), Stephen Charlesworth (Bass),
Christine Brewer (Soprano)
Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers,  BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957; USA 

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