Colin Davis

Beethoven: Fidelio

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It wouldn't be too much to say that this 2006 recording of Fidelio is all but ruined by Christine Brewer's singing. Colin Davis, in his second recording of the work in less than a decade, shows his skills both as an orchestral and a dramatic conductor in an interpretation of weight, power, flow, and momentum. The London Symphony plays with polish, passion, and precision for him and the London Symphony Chorus, especially the men, sing with strength, nuance, and fine diction. The cast is mostly better than average: John MacMaster is a heroic enough Florestan and Kristinn Sigmundsson is a gruff-voiced but sympathetic Rocco, and when her music's on the staff and less than forte, Brewer herself is a sweet-toned Leonore. But when her music's above the staff, Brewer's tone heads toward screeching, and when her music's louder than forte, Brewer's control comes near to howling. For some, her arias may be hard to listen to, while for others, her participation may make this otherwise satisfactory Fidelio all but negligible. LSO Live's sound is remarkably immediate but, paradoxically, also remarkably empty and devoid of a sense of time and place.

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