Brian Setzer reconvenes his big band for its first non-Christmas-related set since 2000's Vavoom! Here he rearranges well-known classical themes from Beethoven, Strauss, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and others into Vegas-ized Rat Pack-era swing. It's a fun concept that buys the guitarist time by not having to compose new material, even though these arrangements, many of them quite complex, must have taken a while to construct. Setzer's well-received jump version of The Nutcracker Suite from 2002's Boogie Woogie Christmas probably got this ball rolling as Setzer digs the crazy classical beat with a dozen peppy selections that put his impressive guitar skills to use against finger-snapping horn charts.
This is a wonderful performance, one of the finest in this Tutto Verdi series of the complete operas. Conductor Gianluigi Gelmetti is an unlikely looking gentleman at first glance but at his first wave of the baton one realizes he is a master. His upbeat tempi have a big sweep that gives the opera the brilliance Verdi intended. The tenor, Francesco Meli (Riccardo), is a young fresh voice, powerful and sensitive; the baritone, Vladimir Stoyanov is beginning to take over from the venerable Nucci in the series. His voice is powerful, well shaded, his acting puts a menace into his Renato and we commiserate with his agony of being a betrayed husband. Serena Gamberoni’s Oscar is a delight—a stunning beauty, her voice supple and flexible, she moves like a real opera star! An American from Arkansas, Kristin Lewis is a passionate Amelia with power, secure in her top notes. Elisabetta Fiorillo (Ulrica), an old-timer now with an alto range, makes a strong impression as the wise and not at all wicked soothsayer. (The WholeNote)
Naxos has done music lovers yet another good turn by releasing these recordings (1932-36), vividly remasterd from 78s. Menuhin was in his later teens when he made them. The concertos in A minor and E are conducted by his teacher Enescu, who is the other soloist in the D minor Double concerto, which Monteux conducts. The performances are compelling, and the slow movements of the solo concertos are imprinted with that beauty of tone and phrase that makes the young Menuhin a permanent wonder. But the Double Concerto is the treasure. The soloists are indistinguishably linked yet each a consummate individual. Playing more heart-easing than in the distraught largo could not be imagined.(Paul Driver)
…this is…a very attractive production. The sets and costumes are in period and completely traditional and tasteful. The stage action is thoroughly sensible and in accord with the libretto, and the acting by all the principals quite decent. Among the four lead singers, the standout is Silvia Dalla Genetta as Gulnara. Let’s hope that the exposure she receives here launches her on a major international career, for this is a world-class voice—a dramatic coloratura with a rapid but perfectly even vibrato; rich, penetrating vocal color devoid of shrillness on top; excellent breath control, including some marvelous soft singing; spot-on intonation; and an ability to handle wide intervallic leaps with aplomb. As Medora, Irina Lungu[’s]…coloratura technique is sound, and overall she sings creditably…Bruno Ribeiro is…a major asset as Corrado…he is…a fine singer…with a secure top and real interpretive temperament. In the role of Seid, Luca Salsi brings an extremely potent bass voice to bear, and is quite the formidable villain. (Fanfare)