(Previous section here.)
The sound quality on this recording is not particularly great. It might be my computer or my stereo speakers (I don’t think it is, though) but there are moments when not-great sound turns into distorted/noisy sound. This tends to happen above certain pitch and volume levels – and this means that it tends to happen most to poor Juliette Galstian, who sings Iphigenia.
The point is, I did a bit of cringing here and there, but this is the recording engineers’ fault, not Galstian’s, who has a voice that I don’t know if I find really fascinating, but which as a nice, bright ringing sound when she’s in the moment, e.g. in the final act, as Iphigenia agonizes over the sacrifice of the man she is about to learn is her brother. I’m not sure this is a performance for the ages, but it’s simple and direct and it works.
Rodney Gilfrey as Orestes had some nice moments, particularly the sequence in Act II as Orestes and Pylades (Deon van der Walt, who has a very sweet-sounding, easy-on-the-ears tenor) argue over who gets to die, and Orestes makes his decision. I mentioned the “my heart is calm” section earlier – I enjoyed both Gilfrey’s singing and the orchestral music. Gluck has a way of sounding utterly magic sometimes. This is one instance, and another comes later, I think in “divinitè des grandes âmes,” when there is one of those characteristic woodwind lines that goes floating over the rest of the orchestral accompaniment. And there is also an eighteenth-century “stop me if you’ve heard this one before” moment with Iphigenia’s “Ô malheureuse Iphigénie!” which is the same music as “Se mai senti spirarti sul volto” from Gluck’s version of La Clemenza di Tito. (One of these days, I am going to have to have a non-Mozart Tito party. Gluck did a version of this opera, as did Josef Mysliveček. Toga! Toga! Toga!)