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GRAMOPHONE AWARDS SHORTLIST 2017

Christophe Rousset conducts Méhul’s Uthal, ‘maintaining both dramatic tension and consistency of characterisation’

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Rock’s Tarquinius. Rice’s smile when he arrives at her house suggests she both appreciates his looks and is flattered by his attentions. But she also establishes the sexual contentment Lucretia feels in her marriage to Collatinus (Matthew Rose), and we fully understand how Tarquinius’s actions so irrevocably tear her world apart. In her depiction of the marriage itself, however, Shaw departs from Britten. She gives the couple a daughter, who is frightened by noise during the rape, and in front of whom Lucretia later kills herself – a tacit evocation of the discussions of the ethics and consequences of suicide integral to the versions of Lucretia’s story by Livy, Augustine and Shakespeare. Rose, meanwhile, plays down Collatinus’s proprietorial attitude towards his wife’s fidelity. His statement that Lucretia should be ‘forgiven for what she has given’ is sung with deep affection, though it more accurately suggests a catastrophic failure of understanding on his part that directly precipitates her suicide.

It’s beautifully acted and sung. Rice wrings your heart throughout and her selflacerating final scenes have a harrowing immediacy. Clayton and Royal are engrossing as their relationship buckles under strain before winning through to newly found mutual understanding: both are in fine voice; Royal, sometimes castigated for slipshod diction, has no difficulty projecting the text here. Rock, lethally handsome, superbly captures the violence beneath Tarquinius’s surface charm. Lyrical yet incisive in his approach, conductor Leo Hussain gets finely detailed playing from his LPO instrumentalists, with every flicker of colour speaking volumes. François Roussillon films it in remorseless close-up, which adds to the emotional nakedness of it all, though we could, on occasion, do with wider stage pictures. There’s enough detail in his camerawork, though, to allow us to see the way the archeological apparatus of ropes and plans at ground level gradually assumes a cruciform pattern as the piece progresses – something that I, for one, hadn’t noticed in the theatre. Tim Ashley

Goldmark Die Königin von Saba Katerina Hebelková mez �Queen of Sheba Nuttaporn Tammathi ten �Assad Irma Mihelič sop �Sulamith Károly Szemerédy bass-bar �King Solomon Kim-Lillian Strebel sop �Astaroth

Jin Seok Lee bass �High Priest Kevin Moreno bar �Baal-Haanan Andrei Yvan bass �Temple Guard Chorus and Extra Chorus of the Freiburg Theatre; Vocal Ensemble of the Freiburg Musikhochschule; Freiburg Philharmonic Orchestra / Fabrice Bollon CPO F c CPO555 013-2 (3h 8’ • DDD • T/t)

Die Königin von Saba was the work that put its HungarianJewish composer on the operatic map at its first performance in Vienna in 1875. It was hugely popular on both sides of the Atlantic in its day, though in Britain, the Lord Chamberlain’s prohibition against the theatrical representation of Biblical subjects prevented its being heard in London until 1910. Strauss and Mahler were among its many conductors. Caruso was one of several star tenors to play Assad, whose uncontrollable desire for the Queen of Sheba destroys his relationship with his intended bride Sulamith. Lilli Lehmann included both principal female roles in her considerable repertory. Its popularity waned after the First World War, though

32 GRAMOPHONE SHORTLIST 2017

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