One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati








Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Samson et Dalila - Opera in three Acts (1877) [119:20]
Samson – José Luccioni (tenor); Dalila – Hélène Bouvier (mezzo); High Priest – Paul Cabanel (baritone); Abimélech – Charles Cambon (bass); Old Hebrew – Henri Médus (bass)
Chorus and Orchestra of the Paris Opera/Louis Fourestier
rec. Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris, 17-27 September 1946
PREISER PAPERBACK OPERA 20061 [64:21 + 54:59]

Experience Classicsonline

Not every old recording is a classic; some are just old. In the present case I am unsure into which category to place it. Its main attraction is its sheer Frenchness. Too many operas are recorded with international casts whose efforts may at times miss the essential flavour of a piece. A work like “Pélleas et Mélisande” is very dependant on a true declamation of its text, and I am suspicious of any version not employing native French speakers. I am not sure that “Samson et Dalila” quite falls into that category, but certainly it does benefit from the clear and free way with words that all the cast have. Even if, like me, your French is at best basic, hearing it sung in this way does add greatly to the conviction of the performance. I assume that Preiser’s title for this series – Paperback Opera – implies a cheap and basic version but I should warm anyone new to the work that to get real enjoyment from it you will need to be able to follow the text. Only a basic synopsis is included here although the full libretto is relatively easily to obtain.

The two principals are another great strength of this recording. Both are clearly at home in their roles and know how to get the best out of them. That said, other Samsons have made more of the character’s strength and various changes in mood and intention, and other Dalilas have been able to sound more seductive in the second Act. Neither is seriously deficient, however, and their use of the language largely compensates for any failings. The secondary characters do what they are required to do at least adequately, although in truth no performance will stand or fall by these roles. The orchestra and chorus can fairly be described as occasionally rough but idiomatic, the chorus with greater emphasis on the rough. The recording however is distinctly rough even for its time, and in an opera whose scoring contains many carefully worked effects this is a serious deficiency. I have not heard either the original records or other transcriptions so that I cannot comment on the transfers as such.

In summary, “Samson et Dalila” may not be amongst the greatest of operas, and may indeed be very static for much of its length, but it does have passages of great beauty or drama. This recording would make an inexpensive reminder of its impact to those who know it already, but I am not convinced that it would give anyone coming to the work for the first time a real impression of its strengths.

John Sheppard

































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

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.