One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

AmazonUK AmazonUS

Véronique Gens - Tragédiennes 2
Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714 – 1787)
Alceste (1776)
1. Grands dieux soutenez mon courage … Ah! Divinités implacables [6:38]
Antonio SACCHINI (1730 – 1786)
Dardanus (1784)
2. Il me fuit … Rien ne peut émouvoir [3:49]
3. Cesse cruel amour de régner sur mon âme [3:04]
Niccolo PICCINNI (1728 – 1800)
Didon (1783)
4. Non, ce n’est plus pour moi [4:27]
Christoph Willibald GLUCK
Orphée et Eurydice (1774)
5. Ballet des ombres heureuses [5:10]
6. Air de Furies [4:02]
Œdipe à Colone (1786)
7. Dieux, ce n’est pas pour moi que ma voix vous implore [2:20]
André GRÉTRY (1741 – 1813)
Andromaque (1780)
8. C’est le seul espoir qui me reste … Si fidèle au nœud qui l’engage [2:34]
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683 – 1764)
Les Paladins (1760)
9. Entrée très gaye de Troubadours [2:25]
10. Triste séjour [2:28]
11. Sarabande [3:03]
Renaud (1783)
12. Hélas vous le dirais-je … Ah! Que dis-tu? [3:33]
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU
Les Paladins
13. Menuets I & II [4:33]
Luigi CHERUBINI (1760 – 1842)
Médée (1797)
14. Ah! Nos peines seront communes [8:24]
Juan Crisostomo de ARRIAGA (1806 – 1826)
Herminie (1823)
15. Mais sur cette arène guerrière … Il n’est plus … Dieux cruels [3:48]
Hector BERLIOZ (1803 – 1869)
Les Troyens (1858)
16. Les Grecs ont disparu … Malheureux Roi [7:00]
Véronique Gens (soprano), Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Rousset
rec. Paroisse Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, 10-14 May 2008 and at Chapelle de l’école Saint Michel, Nantes, 30-31 October, 1 November 2008
Texts and translations enclosed
VIRGIN CLASSICS 2165742 [67:26]


Experience Classicsonline

Véronique Gens started out as a baroque specialist during the second half of the 1980s, working especially with William Christie and his Les Arts Florissants. She soon widened her scope and has been particularly successful as a Mozart singer. Among other things she was a superb Donna Elvira in the Aix-en-Provence production of Don Giovanni about a decade ago. She is also much in demand as an interpreter of French songs and her Naxos recordings of Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne have been highly praised.

The present disc is a sequel to Trágediennes, issued in 2006, which basically covers the same period and some of the same composers. Rameau and Gluck are represented there too but also Lully, Royer, Leclair, Mondonville and Campra. With this second issue she also moves into the 19th century (Arriaga and Berlioz) – and with equal success. The musical quality is high, also in the arias by lesser-known composers like Piccinni and Sacchini. I enthusiastically reviewed Naxos’s complete recording of Sacchini’s Œdipe à Colone a couple of years ago (see review), even making it a Recording of the Month. I made the comment that ‘for my money this is an opera to set beside Gluck, Haydn and Mozart as a superb example of late 18th century music theatre’. This verdict could apply to all the music here. 

The Alceste aria, for example, is among the finest operatic numbers from the 18th century – and in saying this I take the works of Handel and Mozart fully into account. Cherubini is another master, who still hovers somewhere in the outskirts of the general listeners’ knowledge. Médée is without doubt musically on a par with Gluck, Handel and Mozart even though the dramatic pulse sometimes slackens and the drama becomes more oratorio-like. In Néris’s aria from act II there is a lot of repetition of text that can become tiring, but in a lived-in reading, like the one here, it feels psychologically convincing. Arriaga, ‘the Spanish Mozart’ who died before he was twenty, is another remarkable composer. His three string quartets and single symphony are played not infrequently, the aria from the cantata Herminie shows him to have been more than an embryonic opera composer.

Concerning Sacchini the arias from Dardanus and Renaud only confirm that Œdipe à Colone was far from a one-off – he stands out as one of the great non-persons among 18th century opera composers. Piccinni is a name that appears frequently in the opera history books as one of the most popular Italian composers between Pergolesi and Cimarosa and Grétry. He wrote about fifty operas and was no doubt the leading composer of opéra comique during the latter half of the 18th century. Both of them have occasionally been recorded, at least the odd aria. Sutherland recorded an aria from La buona figliuola miratata and Christiane Eda-Pierre made a whole LP some thirty years ago with arias by Grétry and Philidor. Tragédiennes 2 is definitely an utterly invaluable disc in putting some of these composers firmly on the musical map.

It would be of only passing interest, were the performances run-of-the-mill. But they aren’t! I would on the contrary go as far as to say that this is one of the most satisfying vocal discs, in all categories, for a long, long time. Véronique Gens seems never to have put a foot wrong these days. This doesn’t in any way mean that she is cautious or playing safe. Quite the contrary. She immerses herself in the predicaments and feelings of the different characters with the intensity and bravery of a performance artist. She milks the music and texts of their inherent dramatic and expressive potential using the skills and insight of a great improviser –John Coltrane or Charlie Parker. In the midst of this spontaneity she is in full control of her interpretative means. What finally makes the disc so utterly compelling is the singing as singing: the musical phrasing, the purity of tone and the intrinsic beauty of the voice.

It comes as something of a surprise to find that she concludes the recital with Cassandra’s great aria from the first act of Les Troyens. She has sung, and recorded, the song-cycle Les nuits d’été, and very successfully at that, but the role of Cassandra literally cries out for a high-dramatic voice, an Isolde or Brünnhilde. Véronique Gens shows that intensity is not only a matter of volume, it is an inner quality, manifest through conviction and projection. Berit Lindholm on Colin Davis’s legendary Philips recording and Deborah Voigt on Charles Dutoit’s comparable later Decca set - both have magnificent grand voices but Véronique Gens brings out the message of the text with even more conviction.

Add to this the playing of Les Talens Lyriques, which is absolutely superb. Here is an orchestra playing on period instrument with not a trace of hesitant intonation, scrawny tone or sprawling ensemble that characterises lesser groups in the period performance stakes. Rhythms are springy and the full-bodied sound accords their readings a punch that is quite amazing – and this doesn’t exclude lightness and sensibility. If in doubt about their greatness, do listen to the two orchestral excerpts from Orphée et Eurydice: the transparency and elegance of the well-known Ballet des ombres heureuses (Dance of the Blessed Spirits) followed by the dramatic and almost orgiastic Air de Furies (Dance of the Furies) played with tremendous rhythmic drive. These and the other purely orchestral pieces are in this recital no mere resting points but contribute to keeping the temperature near boiling-point. Even the slow Sarabande and the two Menuets from Les Paladins, normally rather vapid decorations, are invested with life through subtle ebb and flow.

The recorded sound is fully worthy of the performances and there are excellent notes in three languages by Jean Duron. Unfortunately the track-list in the booklet has become cryptic through some technical mishap, where the titles of the works have been replaced by sundry symbols – but the back-cover of the jewel-box is correct.

I don’t expect to review many – if any – better discs this year and I can promise that it will be one of my selected Recordings of the Year in December.

Göran Forsling



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.