Martin: Der Sturm

Martin: Der Sturm

by Thierry Fischer
     
 
Frank Martin's "Der Sturm," a setting of The Tempest, which is recorded here for the first time, is one of the (happily dwindling) number of famous 20th century operas that many people have heard of but few people have actually heard. This performance makes its obscurity a little more understandable; it's a major work by an important composer, but overall, in

Overview

Frank Martin's "Der Sturm," a setting of The Tempest, which is recorded here for the first time, is one of the (happily dwindling) number of famous 20th century operas that many people have heard of but few people have actually heard. This performance makes its obscurity a little more understandable; it's a major work by an important composer, but overall, in spite of many beautiful moments, the whole fails to make the kind of dramatic and musical impact necessary to ensure it a place in the repertoire of 20th century classics. At its best, as in the understated, evocative prelude depicting the serenity of the sea before the storm, and the closing scene that develops some of the same material, the music is gorgeous. Other sections, such as those that deal with the comic characters in a jaunty style reminiscent of Weill, fall flat. Martin's daring, potentially intriguing decision to use an offstage chorus to sing Ariel's music comes across as a major miscalculation, as does the use of archaic instruments (harpsichord) and modern instruments (saxophone) so prominently without integrating them into the larger architecture of the piece. It's an uneven work, but it has many moments of dramatic power and musical eloquence, and should interest fans of 20th century opera. Thierry Fischer leads Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Netherlands Radio Choir in a terrifically engaging, beautifully detailed account of the score. Bass Robert Holl is superb as Prospero; he has a large, oaken voice he deploys with authority and tenderness, and he is entirely believable in this larger-than-life role. Tenor James Gilchrist as Antonio also stands out. The remaining cast varies from passable to barely adequate. Soprano Christine Buffle's voice sounds much too mature to be a convincing Miranda, and tenor Simon O'Neill as Ferdinand tends to be thin-sounding and strained. The sound of the live 2008 recording is very good -- lively and realistic -- and there is minimal audience noise.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/10/2011
Label:
Hyperion Uk
UPC:
0034571178219
catalogNumber:
67821

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Der Sturm, opera in 3 acts

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