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Gluck: Ezio

Audio CD | Import

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, September 5, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

Alan Curtis, described by the New York Times' as "one of the great scholar-musicians of recent times", conducts a brilliant cast including Sonia Prina, Ann Hallenberg, Max-Emanuel Cencic and Topi Lehtipuu in the original, 1750 version of Gluck's Ezio, described by Curtis as "from a dramatic point of view, perhaps the finest of Gluck's pre-Orfeo operas".

Written to a libretto by the prolific and influential Metastasio, Ezio exemplifies the formal opera seria that Gluck sought to leave behind with his so-called reform operas such as Orfeo and Alceste; but after Orfeo's epoch-making premiere in Vienna in 1762 he revised Ezio for performance at the city's Burgtheater in 1763.

"Gluck's revisions to Ezio were not motivated not by any dissatisfaction with the work itself, but by the larger size of the Burgtheater and the concomitant need for a larger orchestra," explains Alan Curtis. "Ezio is one of Metastasio's most dramatic operas. It is also one of the few with a plot totally lacking any absurdities or situations which modern listeners could find difficult to accept. An unfortunate aspect of the later version is the omission of the magnificent aria for the tenor, Massimo - `Se povero il ruscello'. Gluck had adapted it for Orfeo, where it became `Che puro ciel', so the Viennese public already knew it too well. We are especially happy to be able to include it in this new recording, sung magnificently by Topi Lehtipuu."

Curtis provides illuminating insights into Gluck's place in operatic history. "For a while during the twentieth century, Gluck was almost reduced to being a one-opera composer: the composer of Orfeo. One could even say that he suffered from too much praise as the reformer, the saviour of opera -- integrating the chorus into the action, liberating opera from the da capo aria and from solo virtuosity. But these days solo virtuosity and da capo variations are very much back in fashion, and people have come to realise that, especially in the first half of his mature years, he was also a master of this `old-fashioned' seria style."

Until now, Curtis' operatic recordings for Virgin Classics have focused on Handel, with Berenice and Ariodante as the most recent additions to his discography of the composer's works. Gramophone has said that "Alan Curtis has done more than most to prove that many of Handel's 42 operas are first-rate music dramas", while the BBC Music Magazine has praised him as "a seasoned Handelian who has contributed, perhaps more than anyone now, to the composer's operas on disc." How, though, does Curtis view the relationship between Gluck and the older Handel?

"Gluck no doubt respected Handel," he says, "though there is no direct evidence that he learned anything from him -- and certainly no example of his stealing any ideas. Unfortunately, the respect was not mutual. It is said that Handel remarked, after Gluck's visit to London, that his cook knew more about counterpoint than Gluck! Coming from the world of Handelian opera, one is first of all struck by the simplicity of much of Gluck's music -- a simplicity which can be mistaken (as it no doubt was by Handel) for a mere lack of complexity or even lack of skill. But Gluck's music is much more revolutionary than that. It was a way of changing the musical language of the time, and of concentrating on dramatic situations and bare emotions: in short, a way of reforming opera, a process that Gluck and others began long before the appearance of Orfeo in 1762.

"Fortunately for us today, one does not have to choose between these two styles of opera. One can appreciate both. As I work with instrumentalists as singers, not only do we find it refreshing to approach a different style with different criteria, but we sometimes thereby discover new modes of expression. Listen, for instance, to the mezzo soprano Sonia Prina as Ezio, singing `Ecco alle mie catene' near the end of Act II. She is justly famous for her lively, virtuosic Handelian coloratura, but while her Handel can astonish, her Gluck can move you to tears."

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Ezio, Sinfonia: Allegro
  2. Ezio, Sinfonia: Andante
  3. Ezio, Sinfonia: Allegro di molto
  4. Ezio: Marcia
  5. Ezio, Atto primo, Scena I: Recitativo: Signoe, vincemmo
  6. Ezio, Atto primo, Scena I: Aria: Se tu la reggi al volo
  7. Ezio, Atto primo, Scena II: Recitativo: Ezio, lascia ch'io stringa
  8. Ezio, Atto primo, Scena II: Aria: Pensa a serbarmi, o cara
  9. Ezio, Atto primo, Scena III: Recitativo: E soffrirai che sposa abbia la figlia
  10. Ezio, Atto primo, Scena III: Aria: Caro padre
  11. Ezio, Atto primo, Scena IV: Recitativo accompagnato: Pria che sorga l'aurora
  12. Ezio, Atto primo, Scena V: Recitativo: Ezio sappia ch'io bramo seco parlar
  13. Ezio, Atto primo, Scena V: Aria: Se povero il ruscello
  14. Ezio, Atto primo, Scena VI: Recitativo: Del ciel felice dono
  15. Ezio, Atto primo, Scena VI: Aria: So chi t'accese
  16. Ezio, Atto primo, Scena VII-VIII: Recitativo: Vedrem se ardisce ancora
  17. Ezio, Atto primo, Scena VII-VIII: Aria: Se fedele mi brama il regnante
  18. Ezio, Atto primo, Scena IX: Recitativo: A cesare nascondi
  19. Ezio, Atto primo, Scena IX: Aria: Ancor non mremi il soglio
  20. Ezio, Atto primo, Scena X: Recitativo: Via, per mio danna aduna
  21. Ezio, Atto primo, Scena X: Aria: Finché un zeffiro soave

Disc: 2

  1. Ezio, Atto secondo, Scena I-III: Recitativo: Qual silenzio è mai questo!
  2. Ezio, Atto secondo, Scena I-III: Aria : Dubbioso amante
  3. Ezio, Atto secondo, Scena IV: Recitativo: E puoi d'un tuo delitto
  4. Ezio, Atto secondo, Scena IV: Aria: Va' dal furor portata
  5. Ezio, Atto secondo, Scena V-VI: Recitativo: Che fo? Dove mi volgo?
  6. Ezio, Atto secondo, Scena V-VI: Recagli quell'acciaro
  7. Ezio, Atto secondo, Scena VII: Recitativo: Folle è colui che al tuo favor si fida
  8. Ezio, Atto secondo, Scena VII: Aria: Nasce al bosco in rozza cuna
  9. Ezio, Atto secondo, Scena VIII-IX: Recitativo: Olà, qui si conduca il prigionier
  10. Ezio, Atto secondo, Scena VIII-IX: Aria: Ecco alle mie catene
  11. Ezio, Atto secondo, Scena X: Recitativo: Ingratissima donna!
  12. Ezio, Atto secondo, Scena X: Terzetto: Passami il cor, tiranno!
  13. Ezio, Atto terzo, Scena I: Recitativo: E ben, da quel superbo
  14. Ezio, Atto terzo, Scena I: Aria: Peni tu per un'ingrata
  15. Ezio, Atto terzo, Scena II-IV: Recitativo: Olà, Varo si chiami
  16. Ezio, Atto terzo, Scena II-IV: Aria: Per la memoria
  17. Ezio, Atto terzo, Scena V-VIII: Recitativo: Generoso monarco
  18. Ezio, Atto terzo, Scena V-VIII: Aria: Per tutto il timore
  19. Ezio, Atto terzo, Scena IX: Recitativo: Partì una volta
  20. Ezio, Atto terzo, Scena IX: Aria: Tergi l'ingiust lagrime
  21. Ezio, Atto terzo, Scena X: Recitativo accompagnato: Misera dove son!
  22. Ezio, Atto terzo, Scena X: Aria: Ah non son io che parlo
  23. Ezio, Atto terzo, Scena XI-XII, Scena ultima: Recitativo: Inorridisci, o Roma
  24. Ezio, Atto terzo, Scena XI-XII, Scena ultima: Coro: Della vita nel dubbio camino



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