C. W. GLUCK: IPHIGeNIE EN TAURIDE. Boston Baroque, Martin Pearlman, Director. (TELARC)
Christoph Willibald Gluck's (1714-1787) final opera, much admired during the composer's lifetime, is rarely performed today. If anything can change that, this marvelous and totally engrossing performance by Martin Pearlman and his fine singers and musicians—the premiere recording of the work on period instruments—should do the trick.
Pearlman successfully conveys Gluck's success "reforming" opera so that the music totally serves the text. The orchestral introduction, exceptionally transparent and precise thanks to period instruments and Telarc's superior DSD sonics, immediately alerts us that this drama is vital and alive. The superb Iphig鮩e, soprano Christine Goerke, possesses a stunning voice filled with color, nobility, and grandeur. It's beautiful throughout its range (far more so than Callas') and absolutely illustrativeof Iphig鮩e's wide-ranging emotions. Equally remarkable is the artistry of baritone Rodney Gilfry, playing Iphig鮩e's brother Oreste. Listeners who know Gilfry as the gruff, brutal, T-shirted Stanley in the PBS broadcast of Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire will here discover an artist of profound sensitivity, who deeply expresses his character's loyalty, suffering, and pain. The other principles, tenor Vinson Cole (Pylade) and bass-baritone Stephen Salters (Thoas, King of Tauris)—the entire cast and chorus, in fact—serve the music admirably. Some operatic recordings need visuals; this one is so dynamic that listeners will find themselves transported simply by its combination of musical excellence and dramatic conviction. Outstanding.