The production and video direction are by British film-maker Ken Russell who puts his own stamp on the production. Russell told an interviewer he felt the plot was "silly" so he turned Marguerite into a young nun, eliminated the Walpurgis Night ballet, had Marguerite use sign-language for Valentin's deaf-mute children, and had Mephistopheles disrespectfully urinating in the stoup in church. However, the overall effect is visually engrossing, the vivid sets and costumes by Karl Toms are effective. And the singing is outstanding. Tenor Francisco Araiza handles the title role with confidence. Ruggero Raimondi, while he may not have the impressive lower register of many devils of the past, is a superb actor. Soprano Gabriela Benackova is in magnificent voice as the innocent Marguerite, and other major roles are impressively sung.
I can´t believe this recording isn´t in the catalogue anymore ,Montserrat Caballé , Giacomo Aragall and Paul Plishka , et al are fantastic . Anyone who owns this recording surely understands my enthusiasm about it .
Alfred Schnittke's Second Concerto Grosso is a different creature than his First. While the 1977 Concerto Grosso No. 1 for 2 Violins, Strings and Keyboards is a lithe, vicious, often comical work, the Second, finished five years later, is a weightier affair. The soloists are now violin and cello; the Baroque band is now a full orchestra with electric guitar, drum kit, and brake drum; there are four large movements rather than six smaller ones; the entire work is imbued with an air of sincere tragedy, albeit with mud on its shoes. Schnittke dedicated the work to its premiere soloists, husband-and-wife duo Oleg Kagan (violin) and Natalia Gutman (cello); famed for their flawless ensemble, the couple inspired in Schnittke a musical air of companionship – a single soul in two instruments.
There are few composers who have vanished from music history to the extent of Johann Abraham Schmierer. We know very little about this composer’s origins, education, career and life journey. Some listeners, during or after hearing this recording, may well wonder why this music – despite its undeniable qualities and relatively early publication (already in 1902 in the tenth volume of Denkmäler Deutscher Tonkunst) – has not been recorded earlier. One reason is surely the fragmentary character of the collection, for six suites are obviously missing.
Here's a promising setup: start with the legendary, inimitable Krautrock outfit Faust and get the equally idiosyncratic Nurse With Wound to produce and mix. Faust was among the most adventurous and creative German bands of the 70s, and after disappearing for a decade and a half, they reunited in the 90s and made several startlingly good albums. Today, drummer Werner 'Zappi' Diermaier and bassist Jean-Hervé Peron are the only original members, joined by Amaury Cambuzat from the band Ulan Bator. Nurse With Wound, formed three decades ago, is the brainchild of Steven Stapleton, now augmented with Colin Potter; NWW recordings are notoriously varied, often sprawling, haunting, and strange, with a love of musique concrète and disquieting sounds…
For her first collaboration with the period ensemble Il Giardino Armonico, violinist Isabelle Faust performs the five Violin Concertos of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, along with three shorter concertante works. This is an extraordinary set, for the historically informed performances, the polished sound of the group, the almost palpable presence of the players, which Harmonia Mundi has captured with superior engineering, and for the unrepressed joy in the music. Faust is the center of attention, naturally, and her refined and expressive playing immediately pulls the listener in. These are far from the most demanding concertos in the repertoire, so Faust is less concerned with technical execution than with conveying the pure feeling of the music, which is delightfully buoyant and uplifting. Under the direction of Giovanni Antonini, the group provides warm and sparkling accompaniment that gives Faust all the support she needs, but there's no doubt that she sets the emotional tone for these exquisite recordings. Highly recommended, especially for devotees of Classical style at its finest.
Happily, Collector's Choice Music has re-released the first two albums by legendary German group Faust, on one CD. There's nothing new here, no previously un-released tracks or anything, but these are perhaps the two finest albums Faust ever recorded (one could also include the classic Faust IV album), and this budget priced compilation is a great way to start exploring what this band has to offer, or simply getting your hands on a couple of albums that have been difficult to find until recently. The first Faust album was so groundbreaking in its innovation that it was impossible to say what its influences were. Three lengthy tracks verged far from the standard rock paradigms of the day, bearing little resemblance to anything the genres of psychedelia, progressive rock, or space rock had yet offered…