Speakers Corner / Deutsche Grammophon - DGG 2709 043
180 Gram Virgin Vinyl - 4260019714732 - Pressed at Pallas Germany
Pure Analogue Audiophile Mastering - Booklet - Limited Edition
The Absolute Sound Super Disc List 2016 TAS Harry Pearson Super LP List
hifi + - March 2015 Roy Gregory Sound 9/10 Music 10/10
Carmen has always struck me as among the most accessible of operas: the French libretto & credible plot play to an Anglo-Saxon audience, the tunes are memorable, and you don’t have to wait too long for them to come along. But if you are in the re-issue game then where better to start? Speakers Corner has gone with DGG’s 1973 recording of Bernstein’s Metropolitan Opera production, captured at the Met itself. Its an interesting & unusual choice, not least because Bernstein chooses to use a score with considerable additional spoken dialogue.
Bernstein’s reading is slower of tempo & overall pace than many well-loved recordings of Carmen, ratcheting up the tension one notch at a time rather than dumping it on your lap. Nor is Home a match for the sultry Leontyne Price or the more multi-dimensional Victoria De Los Angeles, but then this is much more ensemble piece than a star vehicle, and in many ways it’s all the better for it.
“An excellent introduction to Carmen beautifully pressed and presented by Speakers Corner, this should be welcomed (and thoroughly enjoyed) by opera debutants and aficionados alike”. RG
Georges Bizet: "Carmen" - Marylin Horne, James McCracken, the Manhattan Opera Chorus and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra conducted by Leonard Bernstein
his is a problem recording, and even fans of Leonard Bernstein and Marilyn Horne will find it odd writes a large mail-order media company about this "Carmen" production. However, discerning listeners who submerge themselves in the music will soon conclude that the problem is rather to be found among the many highly acclaimed and styled-up other recordings that present the fiery musical portrait as a sanitized, spirited indoor ballet. This is very different from Bernstein, who hints at the work’s inevitable tragedy already in the agonisingly weighty clashing cymbals of the surprisingly slow opening.
His rustic-sounding street scenes are filled with vaudeville, raw and authentic, and so typical of how people behave when they dance out-of-doors. This Carmen is far closer to the cracking "Westside Story" than a saturated "Traviata".
Marilyn Horne in the title role lends the full-blooded Carmen such an incredible voice in all manner of moods that one can hardly believe that we are listening to just one singer. One minute we hear the bright voice of a young girl lusting for life, and in the next minute the mezzo-like pained cry of a man-killing heroine.
James McCracken has a distinctive dry voice, which is full of rousing passion, and is ideal in the role of Don José. He is complemented by the dramatic, powerful baritone Tom Krause as the torero Escamillo.
Harry Pearson, the founder and former Editor in Chief of the specialist magazine "The Absolute Sound", accorded this outstanding recording a regular mention in his 'super disc' list – no problem!
Recording: September and October 1972 im Manhattan Center, New York Günter Hermanns
Production: Thomas W. Mowrey
Manhattan Opera Chorus
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Leonard Bernstein, conductor