Notes and Editorial Reviews
Simon Rattle gives a splendid account of a score he loves, the warmth and passion of his reading responding wholeheartedly to the warmth and passion of the music.
This is a recording of the Covent Garden production which gave much pleasure in June 1990. It was well cast, and sounds well here, with some delightful characterizations and a sense of the wholeness of the world in which animals and humans have their being. Thomas Allen's Forester is warmly phrased, and his directness of utterance keeps him at the centre of the other, slightly caricatured figures—Gwynne Howell's amiable, rather ineffectual Parson, John Dobson's hearty Innkeeper, Robert Tear as a Schoolmaster precise, pedantic, but somehow touching as he finds on leaving the inn that his equilibrium has taken on a puzzling aspect. Howell, as is usual, doubles with the Badger, as which he might perhaps have shown more affront at the manner of his ejection by the Vixen. Nicholas Folwell sings Hara§ta as more of charmer than is traditional, and why not? It is, after all, he who has carried off the delectable Terynka.
The animal world includes some equally affecting portraits. Karen Shelby brings off something of a feat in managing to suggest with her caressing phrases that she is a lust-driven dog; but the seductiveness of Lilian Watson's Vixen makes the illusion the more plausible. She sings charmingly, and, like all the cast, with a fluent control of the very irregular yet essentially lyrical phrases; I missed only the note of pathos in the scene of her captivity, but the eager, shy winsomeness of her wooing by the Fox is enchanting. It is a pity that she sounds close in tone-quality to Diana Montague, who also phrases sensitively and eloquently but has some difficulty in suggesting the Fox's masculine pride.
...Simon Rattle gives a splendid account of a score he loves, but it is a more strongly and overtly romantic performance; one could almost suggest that it matches the atmosphere of Max Brod's German version of the work rather than the more elliptical, crisply stated original. The cunning little vixen is not a work for Czechs alone, and is now rightfully part of the international repertory, so different interpretations are not only possible but potentially no less valid. The warmth and passion of Rattle's reading respond wholeheartedly to the warmth and passion of the music...
-- Gramophone [3/1992]