REVIEWS

 REVIEWS

“So Long, Sixtieth: SFR’s Best Of . . . Goes to the Opera”

“Taking a look back at 2016’s repertory—slightly unconventional though it be—I’d rank [Vanessa] among the most successful of several summers past. … For conducting honors, Leonard Slatkin ranks high. He’s especially noted for his definitive 2004 recording of Vanessa and now for its penetrating reprise [in Santa Fe].”

— John Stege, Santa Fe Reporter

“Coolly Elegant Vanessa in the Desert”

“Conductor Leonard Slatkin seemed to revel in every bit of nuance in this splendid Neo-Romantic score, from the entrancing harmonies to the soaring melodies to the crackling through-composed dialogue that erupted into pungent arias. The eloquent orchestra responded with a generous outpouring of musical excellence underpinned by dramatic intent. Maestro Slatkin partnered his exceptional cast with unerring unity of purpose, and constantly shifting emotions were accommodated with consummate artistry, nowhere more so than in that shattering final quintet.”

—James Sohre, Opera Today

“Santa Fe Opera’s Elegant, Disturbing Vanessa

“[Slatkin] seemed to have the perfect skill set to successfully guide SFO’s superb production of Vanessa, helping to make this 2016 offering one of the highlights of the company’s current season.”

—Terry Ponick, Communities Digital News

Vanessa, Santa Fe Opera, Review: ‘An Engrossing Production’”

“Leonard Slatkin, a conductor well versed in postwar American styles, leads an accomplished performance.”

—George Loomis, Financial Times

“The 2016 Festival Season at the Santa Fe Opera Review”

“Leonard Slatkin conducted with a clinical precision that reached its zenith in the dark disappointment of their final quintet.”

—Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal

“Santa Fe Opera: Barber’s Vanessa Makes for a Magical Night”

“Leonard Slatkin, a conductor with deep experience in Barber’s musical language, gets dramatic and nicely detailed playing from the orchestra.”

—Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News

“Santa Fe Opera’s Vanessa Drab but Beautiful”

“Returning to SFO after an absence of six seasons, American conductor Leonard Slatkin gave a well-paced and expert reading of the score. All in all, a most worthwhile addition to the SFO repertory.”

—Joseph So, MusicalToronto.org

Vanessa Shines Despite Libretto Short of Singable Language”

“Veteran conductor Leonard Slatkin conducts the work with a particular confidence (having recorded it). … The Act 3 instrumental intermezzo is the musical highlight of the evening.”

—D. S. Crafts, Albuquerque Journal

“SFO’s Vanessa Premieres with MacKay’s Brilliant Production Team”

“Not only is Barber’s orchestral writing par excellence, and delivered superbly by Maestro Leonard Slatkin, but it is loaded with magnificent production values. The costumes, sets and lighting present a glorious environment for the top drawer singers to deliver to us a grand night at the opera.”

—Roger Snodgrass and Carl Newton, Los Alamos Daily Post

“Noir-Fangled: Santa Fe Opera Makes a Solid Case for a Revival of Samuel Barber’s Rarely Performed Vanessa

“Conductor Leonard Slatkin did a fine job shaping this score, which alternates between thickly orchestrated and more vacant sections. He was on top of the text all the way. He also modulated the sound so that the orchestra never covered, or even challenged, the lyric voices in the cast. The orchestra responded to him with some excellent playing.”

“Palette of Love Is Noir, Blue & Gray at Santa Fe Opera”

“Barber was a highly successful concert composer, and the orchestral score for Vanessa, his first opera, is symphonic in sweep and range, sometimes in ways unconnected to the libretto. In Slatkin’s hands, it became the real star of the show: precise, with a dark and visceral power all its own.”

—James L. Paulk, Classical Voice North America

“Samuel Barber’s Wintry Tale: A New Face at SFO”

“Familiar from his definitive 2004 recording of the opera, Leonard Slatkin leads his principals, large orchestra and chorus with surpassing skill and minute attention to Barber’s sweeping score.”

—John Stege, Santa Fe Reporter

Vanessa: A Winter Storm in Santa Fe’s Desert”

“Conductor Leonard Slatkin gave the Santa Fe audience a rapturous reading of Barber’s score and the orchestra played with the full measure of its virtuosity.”

—Maria Nockin, Bachtrack.com

“Santa Fe Opera, Part 1: Celebrating 60 with Two Rarities and Strauss (of course)”

“Leonard Slatkin led a polished rendition of this most beautiful score [Barber’s Vanessa].”

Washington Post

Opera Goes to the Movies: SFO Puts Cinematic Twist on Vanessa

“Leonard Slatkin conducted a secure and carefully colored performance. He extracted the best work I have heard this season from the company’s orchestra.”

—James M. Keller, Santa Fe New Mexican

“Report: Five Operas in Santa Fe”

“Conductor Leonard Slatkin gave the audience in Santa Fe a thrilling reading of Barber’s score. Vanessa is not often seen today. Slatkin and his cast definitely made a case for more performances. If you have the chance to see this opera somewhere, do not hesitate, just go!”

—Maria Nockin, Place de l’Opera (translated from Dutch)

“An Elegant Production of Barber’s Vanessa at Santa Fe Opera, July 30, 2016”

“[C]onductor Leonard Slatkin led the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra in a brilliant performance.”

OperaWarhorses.com

“Hollywood Noir: Samuel Barber’s Vanessa at Santa Fe”

“Leonard Slatkin brought his great experience of the piece … and really inspired the Santa Fe Opera orchestra [to] highlight both the lyrical beauties and the complexities of Barber’s score.”

—Robert Hugill, PlanetHugill.com

“Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Leonard Slatkin — Richard Strauss’s Salome — Lise Lindstrom, Chris Merritt, Jane Henschel, Daniel Sutin”

“Leonard Slatkin conducted with pristine attention to detail and also with patience, creating, holding and building tension; colours and instrumental complexities were delicately and lucidly traced and fortissimos were vibrant and momentous. The DSO was superb and there was much to enrich the ears over 100 or so minutes; what emerged was a symphony with voices with a compelling if lurid tale to tell, to which all involved should be proud.”

—Colin Anderson, ClassicalSource.com

“DSO’s Salome Is a Rewarding Spectacle Not to Miss”

“Presiding over a 100-piece orchestra, Slatkin drew a thick and sumptuously blended sound from the ensemble. Strauss demands a virtuoso ensemble, and the orchestra was up to the challenge. The power of the DSO’s low brass made a particularly strong impression, but most important for the future was the way all of the principal and section players who have joined the ensemble in recent years increasingly seem to be comprising a single organism. That hasn’t happened by accident in the DSO’s post-strike era. It’s part of the legacy that Slatkin shares with the musicians who have committed themselves to Detroit.”

—Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press

“Slatkin, Seong-Jin, and the ONL”

“I still have no rational understanding of what happened at the very end, but it was one of those moments that marks one’s auditory memory forever. A collective rapture swept over the stage, inspired by the bond between Seong-Jin Cho and Leonard Slatkin. The powerful ending in perfect synchronization, touched not only the musicians, but completely moved those in attendance … we all felt as if we had witnessed something extremely grand.”

—Beate Langenbruch, Bachtrack.com (translated from French)

“Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Leonard Slatkin—Brahms Festival (4)”

“Slatkin’s measure of the first movement married lyricism and direction ideally. … With an eloquent slow movement, given broadly and with much soul, an appealingly elegant third and an exhilarating Finale, with something saved for an uplifting coda, this was an account that did Brahms 2 proud.”

—Colin Anderson, ClassicalSource.com

“Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Leonard Slatkin—Brahms Festival (1)”

“Slatkin’s marriage of passion and precision, formality and flexibility, with an expressive heart central to the whole, ensured that the explosion of emotion that concludes the first movement was a natural corollary to what had gone before, and that the curiously marked Andante moderato second movement (bordering on Adagio here) was given all the time needed for full expression, eruption and consolation, very intensely brought off. … There are of course many ways to play Brahms 4: Slatkin and his Detroiters convinced rightness throughout.”

—Colin Anderson, ClassicalSource.com

“Thus Spoke (Brilliantly) the Orchestre National de Lyon”

“The homogeneity and accuracy of the orchestra under the direction of Leonard Slatkin, whose gestures were, as usual, precise, clean, and economical, was remarkable. [In Zarathustra] the last, suspense-filled rallentando was perfectly controlled. … The excitement was such that the public could barely withhold its applause until after the last notes had resonated.”

—Camille Grimaud, Bachtrack.com (translated from French)

“Stirring ‘Mahler 2’ Captures Slatkin, DSO, at Their Best”

“Slatkin’s compelling performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (“Resurrection”) offered a snapshot of the DSO as it reaches full strength. Slatkin has appointed more than 30 musicians, including most of the principals, and assimilating so many new players, many of them young and relatively inexperienced, into a cohesive ensemble capable of finding the layers of focused expression audible on Saturday [December 5, 2015] has been one of the conductor’s major accomplishments.”

—Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press

“Slatkin Conducts a Moving Mahler ‘Resurrection’ in Detroit”

“The Detroit Symphony played with exceptional virtuosity and great power. … First-desk solos were excellent, and there was real energy behind the climaxes. Interpretively speaking, I have rarely heard a Slatkin performance this cogent and fully formed. Every bar had character, and the orchestra was more than willing to follow his lead.”

—Brian Wigman, Bachtrack.com

COPLAND: Appalachian Spring (Complete Ballet) / Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

“Leonard Slatkin conducts the so-called Ormandy version [of Appalachian Spring] very emotionally and turns it into a real love letter to the composer. … After a powerful performance of the seldom-played ballet Hear Ye! Hear Ye!, Leonard Slatkin delivers a striking account of Appalachian Spring, vividly colorful with poetically tender passages and beautiful sound. A moving performance!”

—Remy Franck, Pizzicato (translated from German)

“[Hear Ye! Hear Ye! is] quite entertaining, particularly when given Leonard Slatkin’s zestful performance and an orchestra that was obviously enjoying it. It is coupled with Appalachian Spring, one of the finest 20th century American ballets. … From the peaceful opening pastoral scene, Slatkin transports us to pure Americana, vividly picturing the scenes of the young married couple creating a farm. From a random comparison with several other recorded performances, this would be my preference, the playing from the ballet-sized orchestra so sharply detailed. We also have the best sound quality I have ever heard from Detroit. Enthusiastically recommended.”

—David Denton, David’s Review Corner

Additional information at Naxos
Purchase on Amazon | iTunes

RAVEL: Orchestral Works, Vol. 3 — Orchestrations

“The Orchestre National de Lyon and conductor Leonard Slatkin give a characterful performance in this extremely enjoyable recording, which showcases Ravel’s skill as an orchestrator.”

BBC Music Magazine

“[T]his performance is a precise and characterful rendition of Pictures, with particularly well-balanced and powerful brass playing.”

—Paul E. Robinson, Musical Toronto

Additional information at Naxos
Purchase on Amazon | iTunes

RAVEL: L’heure espagnole / Don Quichotte à Dulcinée

“Leonard Slatkin is an exceptionally versatile conductor, but it is perhaps in French repertoire of the 19th and 20th centuries that he feels most comfortable. The singers in Ravel’s exquisitely formed little comic opera L’Heure espagnole … are all entirely appropriate and admirably clear, but it is really Slatkin who’s the star here. … Sample the sly “Salut à la belle Horlogère!” (track eight) for a taste of how Slatkin holds the entire scene, orchestra and singing of mezzo-soprano Isabelle Druet, in the palm of his hand. … Highly recommended and absolutely delightful.”

—James Manheim, AllMusic.com

“Leonard Slatkin conducts with admirable delicacy, with a nice attention to detail.”

—Richard Lawrence, Gramophone

Additional information at Naxos
Purchase on Amazon | iTunes

RAVEL: L’Enfant et les sortilèges and Ma Mère l’Oye — Complete Ballet

“Slatkin and his orchestra capture the magic of this wonderful score [Ravel’s Ma Mère l’Oye] as well as most other accounts I have heard. It is a lovely performance with sufficient attention paid to the dynamics. The gorgeous strings playing softly at the beginning of the last section, The Fairy Garden, rarely fail to create one of those spine-tingling moments that stay with the listener, and they don’t disappoint here. The delicious woodwind soloists also give their all.”

—Leslie Wright, MusicWeb International

“[N]ot only one of the finest recordings of Ravel’s delightful masterpiece [L’Enfant et les sortilèges] I know, but … also one of the finest recent operatic recordings I have heard. … This is a recording of a charming, sophisticated work which will, I can guarantee, provide listening pleasure for years to come.”

—James Forrest, Fanfare

Additional information at Naxos
Purchase on Amazon | iTunes

SAINT-SAËNS: Symphony No. 3, “Organ” / Danse Macabre / Cyprès et Lauriers

“In a very busy field, this stands out for the integrity of Leonard Slatkin’s perceptive musicianship. Finding that mixture of suavity, nervous tension, self-confidence and grandiloquence that characterises so much of Saint-Saens’s music, Slatkin creates a performance of the Third Symphony which is utterly compelling. Whether it is the mighty tread of the basses beneath the nervous chatter of violins and wind in the first Allegro moderato, the infinite gracefulness of the violin line in the Poco adagio or the angst-laden Presto, it all makes convincing musical sense. … [T]his is the Saint-Saens Third Symphony recording par excellence.”

—Marc Rochester, Gramophone

“Slatkin’s take on the symphony is pretty middle-of-the-road in a good sense—no interpretive shenanigans or empty gestures for effect, just plenty of Saint-Saëns’s melodic richness. … [T]his disc shows the very best side of his talents.”

—Donald R. Vroon, American Record Guide

Additional information at Naxos
Purchase on Amazon | iTunes

BERLIOZ: Harold en Italie / Le carnaval romain / Benvenuto Cellini: Overture

“The recording is superb. … The balance throughout is truthful. … Keith Anderson’s comprehensive notes are provided in English with French translation. I hope that Slatkin and his Lyon forces will go on to explore more of the Berlioz repertoire, and look forward to the results.”

—Paul Corfield Godfrey, MusicWeb International

“Slatkin lilts us into the main Allegro [Harold en Italie] as persuasively as anyone this side of the analogue divide and throughout the whole of the first movement (played with repeat), the to-ing and fro-ing between soloist and orchestra is admirably conversational.  The orgiastic finale plays on the most prominent quality in this particular production, an impressive richness of orchestral tone.”

—Rob Cowan, Gramophone

Additional information at Naxos
Purchase on Amazon | iTunes

MCTEE: Symphony No. 1 / Circuits / Einstein’s Dream / Double Play

“The Detroit Symphony  Orchestra and its maestro are totally on top of this thrilling ride [Cindy McTee’s Symphony No. 1: Ballet for Orchestra], which only stops when it hits the buffers with a bang, and the sound quality is exemplary.”

—Colin Anderson, ClassicalSource.com

“[T]his CD is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The work of orchestra and conductor in these performances is exemplary. The engineering is superb. I can think of no better way to come to know the work of this fascinating composer. Highly recommended.”

—Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare

Additional information at Naxos | McTee Website
Purchase on Amazon | iTunes

KINAH

“This was a wholly sincere effort that left many audience members genuinely shaken and moved.”

—Brian Wigman, Bachtrack.com

Kinah held the attention and stays in the consciousness, music that is very personal but also with a powerful outreach.”

—Colin Anderson, ClassicalSource.com

“The piece finds Slatkin spreading his wings as a composer.”

—Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press



ENDGAMES

“Endgames celebrates those instruments “that fall slightly under the orchestral radar” and the musicians that play them. … Each of the woodwinds is introduced in turn, sultry alto-flute, plaintive cor anglais (English horn) … as part of a jaunty, delightfully whimsical first movement. The slow one that follows tenderly expresses itself and sucks the listener into something generous and poignant, the sort of heart-tugging eloquence that American composers do so well. … As it is the cleverly titled Endgames is a feel-good gem.”

—Colin Anderson, ClassicalSource.com

CONDUCTING BUSINESS

“Do you dream of being a conductor? Perhaps you’re studying to be one? Either way you should read this book. … Leonard Slatkin’s autobiography-cum-handbook spells out in its three parts, often in exquisite detail, exactly what it takes to do the job from soup to nuts.”

—Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone

“The first thing to say about this entertaining, revealing and very readable book … is that it is not a straight autobiography. Rather it is part-memoir, part-insight into the music business and part-manual for aspiring conductors.”

—Mike Langhorne, ClassicalSource.com

“These stories—revealing, candid, colorful, and sometimes hilarious—provide the vehicle for many of Slatkin’s most insightful observations about the ‘conducting business’ and his own career within it. They are also what make the book a page-turner, not only for those ‘in pursuit of a conducting career’ but for anyone interested in the conducting profession and the world of orchestras.”

—Chester Lane, Symphony Now

“The demands of the conducting profession are dealt with head on, and there is much affection for people and insight into music that will endear musicians and music-lovers alike to a beautifully written, very human and rewarding manuscript.”

—Colin Anderson, Time Out London

“This is a highly personal but also impressively honest and straightforward account of a profession that has, indeed, been ‘veiled in mystery,’ at least since the twentieth century if not earlier.”

—Stephen Smoliar, Classical Music Examiner

“Leonard Slatkin’s gloriously entertaining and informative book, Conducting Business, is subtitled ‘Unveiling the Mystery Behind the Maestro’, and that is exactly what his book does, with wit, acute observation, and the knack of evocatively conveying the inside story.”

Gramilano