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Puccini: Turandot - Battistoni

Puccini: Turandot - Battistoni

Denon  COGQ-85/6 (2 discs)

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Opera


Puccini: Turandot

Tiziano Caruso (Turandot)
Carlo Ventre (Calàf)
Rie Hamada (Liù)
Kenji Saiki (Timur)
Eiji Date (Emperor Altoum)
Jun Hagiwara (Ping)
Nobuyuki Okawa (Pang)
Kazuhiro Kodama (Pong)
Kazunori Kubo (Mandarin)
Ikuo Mano (Prince of Persia)
Yukari Tsukamura (Maid)
Rei Matsuura (Maid)
New National Theatre Chorus, The Little Singers of Tokyo
Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra
Andrea Battistoni

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Review by John Broggio - January 24, 2016

A late Christmas present to myself, this proves ultimately to be frustrating and disappointing release of a (single) concert performance of Puccini's final opera.

Particularly impressive is the contribution of the Little Singers of Tokyo, who sing with great clarity and unity of tone production and from the outset, Battistoni proves once more to be a tremendously exciting conductor who has drilled his orchestra & chorus very well; there are a couple of minor lapses (as might be expected from a single concert) but nothing serious of note to detract from such an intoxicating piece. The New National Theatre Chorus also puts on a very powerful but nuanced display, leading to very satisfying climaxes in Battistoni's capable hands. One aspect that is completely unsatisfactory on repetition (and also in concert for that matter), is that in Act 3, "Nessun dorma" is given the "concert ending" (followed by applause) before Battistoni immediately restarts with what Puccini had actually written for that aria's conclusion when performed as an opera, completely disrupting the flow of the music - awful.

Of all the soloists, the trio of Ping, Pang & Pong are perhaps most successfully cast and carry off their roles with aplomb; unfortunately much of the solo singing is not of the same calibre. Calaf, here sung by Carlo Ventre, is stretched far beyond his tonal powers here despite Puccini & Battistoni doing everything in their gift to soften the task; when the "young" suitor sounds almost as old as his father, something is awry. This is most noticeable as the dynamic increases, which is regrettable for a certain Act 3 aria. Tiziana Caruso's Turandot is sounding, in royalty terms, near to Queen Mother than Princess; in that, she is similar matched to Ventre but equally similarly, it does not make for pleasant listening in what are usually very demanding arias and duets. Liu, in Rie Hamada's account, is rather steely in timbre and is combined with a rather unflattering vibrato which gives a very different dynamic to that which Puccini imagined; in no way can one suspend disbelief to imagine this is a "young, slave girl". The way the final note of her first act aria (greeted with applause at its close), is very much approached from underneath.

Despite very wide ranging, clear sound from Denon, this set cannot be recommended ahead of (say) Puccini: Turandot - Mehta, even though that BD-audio is "only" stereo. If one could rate Battistoni (his wayward decision around Nessun Dorma, aside), chorus and the orchestra separately from the soloists, they would easily merit 4-5 stars.

Sadly not recommended.

Copyright © 2016 John Broggio and HRAudio.net

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