Related Reviews
Millennium of Music
Classical Album of the Week: 'Fernando Guimaraes's Ulysses is heartbreaking...'
more >>
Audiophile Audition
5 Stars
'...the music is as ravishing and moving as in anything the composer ever wrote...'
more >>
Early Music America
'Martin Pearlman's new performing version [allows] Monteverdi's ingenious musical personality and dramatic range to shine. The playing of the Boston Baroque orchestra is impeccably concise and clear. The vocal musicians reflect the diversity of the human experience found in the opera.'
more >>
The Boston Globe
The best local classical albums of 2015: 'Martin Pearlman and Boston Baroque deliver a lithe and touching account of Monteverdi’s exquisite score, using a new performance edition by Pearlman himself.'
more >>
Ouverture Das Klassik-Blog
'A standalone, interesting version, which lets you hear some exciting detail.'
more >>
All About Jazz
4½ Stars
'Tenor Fernando Guimaraes in the role of Ulisse and mezzo-soprano Jennifer Rivera whose performances are sculpted as much from academic study as sheer talent.'
more >>
Classics Today
'The singing is stunning...'
more >>
4 Stars
,,Das Werk wird hier in einer Überarbeitung des Barockspezialisten und Dirigenten Martin Pearlman vorgestellt, der bekannt ist für seine Liebe zum Detail und seinen Respekt, den Komponisten so weit wie möglich Werkstreue zu garantieren.''
more >>
MusicWeb International
'This is a lovely recording.'
more >>
Early Music Review
'...undoubted integrity and many sterling assets. It unquestionably earns a place among the better recordings of the opera.'
more >>
'A splendid Boston Baroque recording of Martin Pearlman’s own new edition of the opera shows this work to be richly textured and – thanks to fine performances by tenor Fernando Guimarães as Ulisse and mezzo-soprano Jennifer Rivera as Penelope – emotionally trenchant.'
more >>
New York Times ArtsBeat Blog
'strong cast'
more >>
'entirely competent'
more >>
Voix des Arts
more >>
‘A satisfying listening experience.’
more >>
Andrew Benson-Wilson Blog
‘One of the highlights is Pearlman’s use of the various instrumental colours, with particularly effective contributions being made by the continuo theorbo players.’
more >>
The Sunday Times
Classical Album of the Week: '...emotionally wrenching...Fernando Guimaraes's Ulysses is heartbreaking.'
more >>
The Guardian
'This performance is technically solid with some fine playing from the orchestra.'
more >>

Boston Baroque - Monteverdi: Ulisse - Gramophone

01 June 2015
David Vickers

There is a thorny issue about how much (or little) of Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria (Venice, 1640) is actually by Monteverdi. Pioneering versions by Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Raymond Leppard in the early 1970s plastered reorchestrated ‘realisations' on to the music that omitted only the kitchen sink - a philosophy later carried over to spiced-up imaginings by René Jacobs and Gabriel Garrido. Monteverdi experts are certain the composer's expectation was a limited band of just a few strings and continuo players. 

Martin Pearlman's amiable essay observes that there cannot be a single ‘correct' way to bring about an effective interpretation of this problematic score. In principle his performing edition inclines towards the anachronisms of the interventionist brigade but in practice he often values economical understatement. Orchestral parts have been composed to accompany singers in various scenes that present moments of heightened emotion, and concise ritornellos are sprinkled copiously with recorders and cornetts (both unlikely to have been used in Venetian operas during the 1640s). Boston Baroque's large continuo group has two harpsichords, organ (using a reedy regal registration whenever Neptune sings), two theorbos (one sometimes playing a guitar) and a cello - although the copious use of melodic bowed bass in recitatives is contentious.

The cast respect the poetic eloquence and dramatic sense of Giacomo Badoaro's libretto. Fernando Guimarães as a multi-dimensional Ulisse exploits his rich middle register. Jennifer Rivera deftly conveys the predicaments of the long-suffering Penelope. The contrast between the kindly shepherd Eumete (Daniel Auchincloss) and the parasitical glutton Iro (Marc Molomot) is characterised vividly, and Aaron Sheehan's more effortless tenor suits the youthful Telemaco. The trios for Penelope's despicable suitors Anfinomo, Pisandro and Antinoo are aptly characterised but over-egged by some old-fashioned vibrato and approximate intonation; brief ritornellos between their attempts to draw Ulisse's bow would have been just as effective played by only strings (instead of the cornucopia of recorders and cornetts). Pearlman's vision does not offer perfect answers but no individual performance has ever got everything right - and it is always a pleasure to become reacquainted with the most under-appreciated of Monteverdi's three extant operas.

Bookmark and Share

Related Links

Boston BaroqueBoston Baroque
Monteverdi: Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patriaMonteverdi: Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria