Related Reviews
Herald Scotland
'...the orchestra brings fresh style and insight...a real ear-opener...The sound engineers at Linn capture every shimmering hue.'
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The Times
4 Stars
'This is Berlioz up close and personal, and wonderful to behold.'
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Infodad
'...very impressive indeed.'
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Opera News
'... she moves between soft-edged delicacy and a glamorous steeliness with ease...'
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Musica
4 Stars
‘…l’ottima Scottish Chamber, ma certamente colpisce, in questo CD, il ricorso continuo a tinte astello, il rifiuto totale dell’enfasi, del canto spiegato e la ricerca della sobrieta`, dell’eleganza.’
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Limelight
‘Cargill’s Cleopâtre gives even Dame Janet a run for her money...a real revelation.’
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Limelight
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AllMusic.com
'Cargill's marquee performance of Les nuits d'été is breathtaking.'
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American Record Guide
'...penetrating and intimate...'
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MusicWeb International
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BBC Radio 3 'CD Review'
‘It’s an excellent display of the richness of her voice and the vocal and dynamic range. And the playing while the chamber scale sucks us into the heart of the poetry with the really clean, clear sound the Scottish Chamber Orchestra can produce.’
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International Record Review
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MusicWeb International
‘I was completely entranced…sounds excellent.’
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The Arts Desk
‘Robin Ticciati achieves exactly the right lightness, the delicacy, in a song cycle which should ideally delight as much as it moves. He’s well matched by mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill…Best of all is L’île inconnue; Cargill’s “Où voulez-vous aller?” is impossible to resist.’
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The Independent
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Sinfini Music
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'...the technical command and hyper-accurate tuning are bombproof.'
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Financial Times
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The Guardian
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'...wonderfully controlled and exquisitely shaded...'
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SA-CD.net
5 Stars
'One does not need to have heard this work before (or to understand French) to appreciate the stopping of the beating heart rhythm to know what this symbolises.'
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The Times
4 Stars
'...piercing clarity of colour and texture; heightened drama; increased tenderness and intimacy.'
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The Guardian
'wonderfully controlled and exquisitely shaded'
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The Sunday Times
[Cargil's] Nuits d'ete and Cleopatra suggest a Trojans Dido of stature in the making.
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AllMusic.com
'...this is one of the best recordings of Les nuits d'été available.'
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Berlioz Les nuits d'ete - SCO & Ticciati - BBC Music Magazine


01 May 2013
BBC Music Magazine
Michael Scott Rohan
5 Stars

Just about everyone, myself included, welcomed Robin Ticciati and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra's first recording in their Berlioz series, Symphonie Fantastique, particularly for its smaller-scale approach, keenly focused and not Romantically sprawling, so recalling Berlioz's Classical influences. This is also true of their second disc, but I found myself asking whether it would work quite as well because in both these pieces the solo voice has such a major role, hardly lending itself, one might think, to such reduction and concentration.

Scottish star mezzo- soprano Karen Cargill, in fact, has a remarkably beautiful voice, full of sunny delicacy and warmth but also capable of Wagnerian dramatics. Her French will do almost as well as, say, Susan Graham's, infusing innocent terms like ‘des fraises des bois' with gentle sensuality, while not stinting the anguish of loss and regret. But the orchestral side must not be eclipsed, especially in Mort de Cleopatre's harmonic and rhythmic contortions (‘Well, she is dying in agony!' the composer pointed out).

It's worth remembering, though, that Berlioz's own orchestras were often relatively small. Ticciati's chamber forces do make a difference from the sound we're used to, without disturbing and essential balances. Against them, the brass especially, the voice sounds more at ease and more flexible, no longer competing with full symphonic power; the players in turn underpin Cargill's performance with more precise shading, especially since the individual instruments stand out more sharply. The overall effect is less potentially controversial than in the Symphony, but still contributes an air of freshness and immediacy which I greatly enjoyed.
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Berlioz: Les nuits d'eteBerlioz: Les nuits d'ete