PETER EÖTVÖS (b.1944): Tri sestry.
Catalogue Number: 12V055
Label: Oehms Classics
Reference: OC 986
Description: The frankly unappealing protagonists of Chekhov's unsparingly observed slice of unsatisfyingly provincial life are given an appropriately bleak setting in which to wallow in the exquisite nuances of their lives in Eötvös' superbly detailed and ominous operatic setting. The unwritten subtext of the play, the tawdry victory of the proletariat, represented by the scheming, amoral sister-in-law, Natasha, over the ineffectual and oblivious aristocracy and military, seems to haunt every bar of this dark, oppressive score. Eötvös is a master of timbre, and the richly textured shadow-play interaction between the chamber ensemble in the pit and the larger orchestra behind the stage is responsible for some of the score's most chilling scene-setting. The vocal writing is precisely judged to delineate the nature of the characters and their place in the drama, from verbose, lyrical arias gloomily professing eternal love (never satisfactorily returned) to the exaggerated mannerisms caricatured in sprechstimme and (somewhat) extended techniques and the stilted military manners expressed in speech. In a nod to Eötvös' interest in Japanese Noh theatre, the female roles are taken by male countertenors, which lends a kind of timbral detachment from the expected literal depiction of the characters. Eötvös' idiom here builds on the legacy of late Romanticism, though with his exhaustive experience of everything since, he makes telling use of rhythmic devices and occasional microtones that were not available to early 20th century Expressionists and twelve-tone experimenters. A highly effective, if necessarily unsettling and suffocating, adaptation of a theatrical classic of the horror of the banal. 2 CDs. No libretto availability mentioned. Ray Chenez, David DQ Lee, Dmitry Egorov (countertenors), Frankfurt Opera and Museum Orchestra; Dennis Russell Davies, Nikolai Petersen.