A trim, at times, almost balletic Falstaff. If that seems a ludicrous contradiction, I should explain that it refers to Dutoit's spirited interpretation of the work, not the central character, though Falstaff himself has shed a few pounds in the process but is no less loveable. Indeed, Dutoit's swift tempo for the second section (at the Boar's Head) has the theme for Falstaff's 'cheerful look and pleasing eye' sounding less like Tovey's understandable misunderstanding of it as ''blown up like a bladder with sighing and grief''. The trimming down process is abetted by the Montreal sound, with lean, agile strings and incisive brass (the horns are magnificent). Some may feel a lack of warmth in the characterization. I certainly felt that the first presentation of Prince Harry's theme (0'40'') could have done with a richer string sonority. Doubtless, too, there will be collectors who, at moments, miss the generous humanity of Barbirolli, or the Straussian brilliance of Solti. And although Mackerras is wonderful in the dream interludes and Falstaff's death, the start of his fourth section, with Falstaff's rush to London only to be rejected by the new King, is short on teeming excitement and anticipation. (Gramophone)
Santa Fe Desert Chorale takes us on a beautiful journey through America’s deep choral heritage with richly expressive, blended singing. Simple Shaker songs from the mid-19th century are performed in both their original, pure forms—introducing some terrific solo voices—and in sumptuous arrangements by Shawn Kirchner, whose warm-hearted “Angel Band” takes full advantage of the choir’s wide-ranging sonorities. Jake Runestead’s “Reflections,” commissioned by Santa Fe Desert Chorale, and Morten Lauridsen’s “Mid-Winter Songs” represent the best of contemporary American choral music while the final three works, including Stephen Paulus’ “The Road Home,” remind us of the folk-song roots of jazz, gospel, and bluegrass.