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Cat. No. CHAN 3156 Price: £9 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 3156 - Bizet: The Pearl Fishers (Highlights)
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Available From: 01 September 2008
A leading interpreter of the bel-canto repertoire, internationally renowned for his conducting of operas of Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini, the Australian Brad Cohen here makes his debut on Chandos. He first came to public attention when, a year after winning the 1994 Leeds Conductor’s Competition, he conducted the world premiere of Thomas Adès’s Powder Her Face. Since that promising beginning he has conducted a wide-ranging repertoire at English National Opera, Opera Australia and Opera North, to name but a few. This recording is the first to use Cohen’s own edition of The Pearl Fishers. Cohen was able to secure the original conductor’s score from 1863 and has created a new version, published by Peters Edition, that is arguably much closer to Bizet’s intentions and includes the original version of the famous duet ‘Au fond du Temple saint, plus a recording of the popularly used version we all know today.

Keenlyside, as so often happens in his recordings, is the star here. This is, I believe, his debut in Chandos’ Opera in English series, and worth the long wait. In terrific voice, he projects immediate strength and appeal the moment he begins to sing.
International Record Review

Keenlyside is authoritative as the tormented Zurga and Banks is wonderfully passionate as his rival in love
Classic FM Magazine

It was Rebecca Evans’s Gretel, who took the honours. Spinning out radiant lines of delicious purity, she made it hard to see how the role could be sung better
The Times

Barry Banks contrasts well with Simon Keenlyside’s tempestuous, heart-torn Zurga: their fraught friendship totally convinces. Alastair Miles exudes the magisterial utterance one wants in a Brahmin priest. Cohen and the London Philharmonic lead us into a sound-picture that reveals depth upon depth of ear-catching scene-painting. At 79 minutes this disc gives you the pearl in Bizet’s oyster.

Barry Banks and Simon Keenlyside, singing the aria in English as ‘then from the holy shrine’, do Bizet proud. The voices meld through the big tune, producing a hearfelt hymn to friendship. And Brad Choen conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra, almost makes you believe it’s the first time you’ve heard the celebrated melody for harp and flute solo that introduce the duet. This is an opera crammed with delectable tunes and duets…
BBC Music Magazine

The star however is Rebecca Evan’s Leila, exquisitely beautiful of tone, immaculate technically and getting a lot of the words across. This deserves to fly off the shelves and out of the shopping websites
The Sunday Times


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