"... A work gorgeously scored neo-Romanticism, Vanessa features five vividly drawn characters. Chandos’s central trio... all offer wonderfully nuanced readings." "...The orchestral and choral detail and finish under Slatkin are highly impressive and very well recorded."
Christine Brewer… [gave] a performance of extraordinary emotional and vocal span. What a cast of formidable American singers this was. There was Susan Graham, with an Erika of dark yet lacerating eloquence. And an Anatol debonair yet always troubling in the excellent tenor William Burden. Even the cameo roles… were larger than life.
If doubts remain about the viability of the piece as a whole – Gian Carlo Menotti’s libretto is the main problem – this set at least allows us to judge the work’s genuine musical merits represented here at their best.
Barber’s first opera deserves to be better known than it is. There are few operas of the last half-century that have such obvious audience-and-singer-appeal, for Barber was a great composer for the voice…Chandos’s release is a must-buy.
…Slatkin, in one of his finest achievements in recent years, immaculately judges the works mixture of ferocious lyricism, disquieting intimacy and underlying neurosis. This is a considerable achievement that should restore Vanessa to the repertory.
'Leonard Slatkin and the BBC band make a voluptuous brew of this gorgeously orchestrated opera, pungent with whiffs of Berg, late Puccini and Barber's own acid sweetness. Strongly recommended.'
Time Out (USA, New York)
Placed in direct comparison, the new Chandos release provides what is undeniably the most fulfilling experience of the opera. Leonard Slatkin has already proven himself one of the most discerning and insightful interpreters of Barber’s music… as in Slatkin’s other Barber recordings, virtually every detail in the rich orchestral fabric is carefully shaped, its motifs interwoven with the motifs in the vocal lines, while the impact of the whole reflects Chandos’ customary combination of luxuriance and clarity.
'This is a work Leonard Slatkin understands through and through and he gives it every bit of its due.'
'Like may operas with imperfect librettos, Vanessa makes an ideal audio experience, especially in a performance as strong and as well recorded as this one.'
International Record Review
'Now we have what must be the most desirable version ever…Above all, the opera is lovingly conducted by Leonard Slatkin, who with the BBC Symphony Orchestra draws all the power, beauty and with from Barber's score.'
BBC Music Magazine
'I much enjoyed the Naxos set, but it is eclipsed by this new Chandos performance.'
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