Classical reviews: December 8

Verdi: Rigoletto. Luciano Pavarotti, etc; The Metropolitan Opera. Decca DVD.

Recorded in film and sound back in 1981, this performance of Rigoletto was discovered in The Met's archives and has just recently become available.

It has a scintillating Pavarotti at the peak of his career as the wicked Duke of Mantova in an outstanding cast, headed by Louis Quilico in the title role impressively acting as the deformed jester.

Soprano Christiane Eda-Pierre beautifully sings her part as the tragic Gilda in this lively and superb production, one that is so worthy of preservation.

Conductor James Levine keeps the cast, chorus and ballet moving at an exciting pace and the opera contains many memorable scenes.

Pavarotti's delivery of the famous La donna e mobile and Questo o quella arias is just superb.

Highlight: Sparkling production of dark and sinister opera.


In the Wake of the Great War. Benjamin Martin (piano). Melba CD.

Martin was called ''the best young talent for the new millennium'' by The Australian newspaper in 2000.

He is a pianist and composer, who here shows his artistry on the keyboard playing rarely heard solo works by composers best known for orchestral music: Delius, Arnold Bax, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Frank Bridge.

(Charlie Chaplin is also represented with the album's tailpiece: Martin's arrangement of Smile, from the film Modern Times.)

All were written between 1921 and 1930.

Two lengthy sonatas by Bax and Bridge are preceded by three preludes and separated by Vaughan Williams' hymn-tune Prelude on Song 13 by Orlando Gibbons.

Excellent playing of an imaginative programme now of topical interest with focus on the war centennial.

Highlight: Fine playing of forgotten music.

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