From an artistically point of view I simply do not see the rationale behind the release of this new solo album by Erwin Schrott. From a pure commercial point of view, however, it could make sense:
In 2008, under his contract with Decca, Erwin Schrott released his first solo CD, an album not unlike the current one, with a selection of bass-barytone arias. The album was received with mixed reviews and subsequently Erwin Schrott has signed with Sony. Yes, there are differences between the two albums of course, but mostly in favour of the first album, where Erwin Schrott included some of Mozart roles such as Figaro and Leporello, which he has successfully performed on stage. On this new album, the arias are different, but with an overweight into repertoire, which simply does not find Erwin Schrott at his best and exposes his vocal weaknesses: Méphistopheles Veau d´Or (Faust), Scintille Diamant (Hoffmann), Tre sbirri (Scarpia in Tosca), three pieces from Mefistofele (Boito)..
A sticker on the disc states that this album presents Erwin Schrott in his signature roles. This is simply not true. He may have performed the Faust-Mephistopheles and Escamillo a few times on stage, but his calling cards are still Mozart roles such as Leporello, Don Giovanni, Figaro. Not represented at all on this current CD. And this, I don´t think will change. Schrott simply does not have the vocal qualities to distinguish himself in the basso cantante repertoire: He is practically unable to hold a vocal line, his intonation is shaky with major weaknesses in both upper and lower registers. Furthermore, I don´t reallly hear anything interpretatively.
We have a number of unrecorded bass-barytones active today, who would have done a better job than Schrott in the recording studios. And he is simply no match for those already recorded in the same repertoire (from present day: René Pape and Bryn Terfel, from the past: Samuel Ramey, George London).
On stage, however, in his core repertoire, Erwin Schrott is among the best there is today, not least due to his excellent combination of stage presence and physical acting.
So why release an album so similar to his previous one? Has his public profile been raised sufficiently with his big venue concerts with Anna Netrebko to make this album a commercial success? Honestly, I don´t think so.
Le veau d´or - from a Barcelona concert in 2011:
The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):