Verdi

BBC Music Magazine - - Opera Reviews -

Otello

Niko­lai Schukoff, Melody Moore, Lester Lynch, Kevin Short, Junho You; Gul­benkian Cho­rus & Orches­tra/lawrence Fos­ter Pen­ta­tone PTC 5186 562 (hy­brid CD/ SACD) 142:56 mins (2 discs) Lawrence Fos­ter re­turns here to the Lis­bon­based orches­tra whose prin­ci­pal con­duc­tor he was be­tween 2002 and 2013. In Verdi’s de­mand­ing score, Fos­ter’s stir­ring di­rec­tion of­fer­ing an un­stop­pable sense of mo­men­tum as well as high­light­ing much of the work’s en­rich­ing de­tail, to which his play­ers re­spond with pre­ci­sion and vivid at­tack.

But Otello is not merely one of the ma­jor op­er­atic chal­lenges for all con­cerned, but a highly com­pet­i­tive mar­ket on disc. All three of the prin­ci­pals de­liver hon­ourable, qual­ity per­for­mances, but none of them is able to equal – let alone sur­pass – some of the best avail­able in­ter­pre­ta­tions. Nev­er­the­less, mixed Aus­tro-hun­gar­ian (as he de­scribes him­self ) Helden­tenor Niko­lai Schukoff is a con­vinc­ing ex­po­nent of the ti­tle-role, de­lib­er­ate and con­trolled, if in the fi­nal anal­y­sis some­what bland and lack­ing in dra­matic stature. As Iago, Lester Lynch presents a thought-through ex­plo­ration of the role, with some of its psy­cho­log­i­cal com­plex­ity reg­is­ter­ing; but even though he’s clearly on the way to some­thing re­mark­able as yet there’s not enough nuance. Melody Moore knows how to shape Des­de­mona’s line and her ac­count blends pas­sion and con­tain­ment; at her best, as in the Wil­low Song and Ave Maria, she sounds vo­cally vi­brant and thor­oughly en­gaged.

The sec­ondary roles are all de­cently done, though Junho

You’s harsh tenor com­pro­mises his other­wise clev­erly sketched-in Cas­sio. The choral singing is clear and full-throated. One of the set’s un­doubted as­sets is its su­pe­rior record­ing qual­ity, no­table for bright, for­ward sound, sharp def­i­ni­tion and a wide range. Ge­orge Hall PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★ RECORD­ING ★★★★★

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