OP2235. AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS (Menotti), recorded 1951, w.Schippers Cond. Chet Allen, Rosemary Kuhlmann, Andrew McKinley, David Aiken, Leon Lishner & Frank Monachino; Dimitri Mitropoulos Cond. Robin Hood Dell Orch.: SEBASTIAN – Ballet Suite (Menotti), recorded 26 July, 1946. (Germany) Naxos 8.111364. Transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn. - 747313336425
“This performance is given by the original television cast, and they are all excellent, though a contemporary cast would probably assume the rôles in a less overtly ‘operatic’ manner. Chet Allen is very fine, and his words are remarkably clear. I haven’t heard the original LPs, but I suspect producer Mark Obert-Thorn has worked miracles with them. A note in the booklet explains the limitations of the original material. Thomas Schippers, who championed the composer, conducts a brisk performance.
Menotti’s ballet, SEBASTIAN, was first produced in New York in 1944. The Suite recorded here is in six sections played without a break. There are a few oriental touches, not unlike those to be found in AMAHL, and which presumably refer to the title character who is a Moorish slave. His name is well chosen: he dies following multiple arrow shots which he has contrived to receive in place of the intended victim, the woman he loves with no hope of a future. He thus selflessly saves her life, leaving the way clear for another suitor. The music is immediately attractive, and though there are dramatic passages, it is melodious and graceful to the point that one is surprised to read the rather bloodthirsty and dramatic scenario. Like AMAHL, it is highly tonal, the only real excursion into chromaticism coming, rather predictably, in the movement entitled ‘Street Fight’. The final section, ‘Pavane’, is particularly attractive, with some individual and surprising melodic turns. The performance seems to be a fine one, as one would expect from members of the Philadelphia Orchestra under Mitropoulos.”
- William Hedley, MusicWeb International, April, 2011