M-A. Charpentier Medée

An appetising-looking operetta selection with a star line-up, but poor sound quality dogs the results

Author: 
Edward Greenfield

M-A. Charpentier Medée

  • Médée
  • Orfeo

The choice of items here is promising, with two by Kalman and one by Zeller tricking out the generous and attractive selection of Lehar. This is a live recording of a gala held last summer at Bad Ischl in Austria, but much tolerance is required for the quality of sound. At the very start, Thomas Hampson's voice in the opening Kalman duet sounds almost as though it were coming through a public-address system, big and close but ill-focused, and not one of the five singers is helped by the aggressive sound.
Both Eva Lind and Andrea Rost are disappointing, the one shrill on top, the other sour as well and often edgy, with juddery vibrato. As for Jose Carreras, it is sad to hear the remains of a great and beautiful voice, for the more strenuously he tries to cover his problems, forcing even in the 'Kleinen Pavilion' sequence from The Merry Widow, the more quavery and less beautiful he sounds. Even Placido Domingo sounds less agreeable than usual, with the baritonal element in his voice exaggerated, sometimes with a hint of unsteadiness, something which also afflicts Hampson from time to time, even if with both I am inclined to blame the aggressiveness of the sound.
Under Marcello Viotti the Budapest Philharmonic plays lustily, but despite the enthusiasm of the audience this is a disc, heavyweight in the wrong sense, which almost totally misses the magic and charm of Lehar.'

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