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Busoni’s most famous opera won’t be for everyone in its rather discursive structure; it’s not overly long, but it feels it to me. This live recording (Bayerische Staatsoper, 2008) gives the piece a helping hand as it’s so dramatically vivid and well-engineered – there’s a sense of stage but not too much intrusive accompanying sound. Tomas Netopil’s conducting goes hell-for-leather at the score and he and the orchestra obviously relish Busoni’s arresting sound world. The choral writing is extraordinary in its series of effects and the Staatsoper Chorus is on superb form – perhaps the jewel of this set. Wolfgang Koch is an excellent Doktor Faust, his baritone true and rich, and he lasts the course unscathed. John Daszak’s rather straight-toned tenor is an acquired taste, but his Mephistofeles is deftly characterised. The other roles are more broadly drawn, though I liked Steven Humes’s multiple contributions, and Catherine Naglestad’s rich soprano makes for a strong if slightly squally Duchess of Parma. This is an effective recording but the opera is an acquired taste.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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