Sung Kyu Park, Christoph Wittmann (tenors), Marian pop (baritone), Pavel Kudinov (bass), Leah Gordon, Stephanie Henke (sopranos), Lancelot Nomura (bass); Czech Philharmonic Choir Brno; Cappella Aquielia/Marcus Bosch
Coviello Classics COV91925 110.34 mins (2 discs)
George Bernard Shaw as a music critic summed up the qualities of Verdi’s fourth opera, describing it as ‘an ultra-classical product of Romanticism, the grandiose Italian opera, in which the artistry of the performance consists of a dazzling unfolding of individual heroic courage and the drama burgeons accordingly from the simplest and most universal catalysts.’ Like all of Verdi’s operas, it demands a high-flown musical performance – but only intermittently receives it here.
Leah Gordon’s healthy sounding Elvira exhibits fleshy tone throughout the range, but despite some technical capability there are also some rough edges. As one of Verdi’s archetypal, doomed Romantic heroes, Sung Kyu Park’s Ernani begins capably enough, though his tone and delivery are wooden and there are signs of vocal stress. Increasingly, though, as the performance progresses, he hurls himself at the role, expressing the character’s increasing desperation. Marian Pop’s Carlo is firm and bold and he shapes the Verdian line well. Pavel Kudinov is a relatively light-voiced Silva, though he exhibits a good sense of style and clearly understands what the role of the proud nobleman is about.
Conductor Marcus Bosch’s interpretation is often well shaped, but despite his aptitude for energy and accent an essential sense of commitment is missing. The sound is rather dry, distant and limited in range, favouring the orchestra over the chorus, while even the internal orchestral balance is haphazard. George Hall