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Well, at least we know now that Anna Netrebko’s no Strauss singer – her best rep was always the light bel canto. It’s too late to tell you not to buy this for Christmas, and I am really pained to be uncomplimentary about two Netrebko productions, but this is really no good. It starts with a curiously muddy, generic orchestra performance by Barenboim and the Berlin Staatskapelle, but the main worry is the singing. For a start, Netrebko cannot find the right place in the mouth for the German language, which keeps slipping between throaty Russian vowels and Italian purity, both wrong. But more importantly and weirdly, as soon as she leaves the comfort zone of soft and middle volume – both decently done – things immediately become harsh and pushed-sounding, with none of the variety of colours in the voice you hear when, for example, Jessye Norman sings these songs. Line and legato are guessed at, the words are just sounds … even for her most inveterate fans, there is very little to recommend this, especially given the range of great versions available.

Robin Thicknesse Read the full review on Agora Classica


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