Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider


New App by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra for iOS and Android!

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

REVIEW



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 

 

alternatively
CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
Les Troyens (1856-58) [267:05]
Énée - Lance Ryan
Chorèbe - Gabriele Viviani
Panthée - Giorgio Giuseppini
Narbal - Stephen Milling
Iopas - Eric Cutler
Ascagne - Oksana Shilova
Cassandre - Elisabete Matos
Didon - Daniele Barcellona
Anna - Zlata Bulycheva
Valencia Regional Government Choir (Cor de la Generalitat Valenciana)
Valencian Community Orchestra (Orquesta de la Comunitat Valenciana)/Valery Gergiev
rec. live, Palau de les Arts “Reina Sofia”, Valencia, Spain, 2009
This recording is also available in Blu-ray format.
UNITEL CLASSICA 706008 [144:55 + 122:10]

Experience Classicsonline



With the release of Gergiev’s recording of Les Troyens the discography benefits from a persuasive, dynamic and convincing interpretation of this famous score. Composed between 1856 and 1858 it was given a partial premiere in 1863. Berlioz’s Les Troyens was subject to cuts during his lifetime, such that the composer never saw the first two acts performed. Since Berlioz’s lifetime, the five-act opera has been divided into two parts, the first La prise de Troie (acts 1 and 2) and the second Les Troyens à Carthage (acts 3 through 5). Because of its scope Les Troyens has been performed infrequently. The effort required to mount a complete staging of the entire work is phenomenal. A romantic adaptation of Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’, Les Troyens pushes the limits of opera in many ways, and this recent production by Palau de les Arts “Reina Sofia”, Valencia deserves attention amongst other things for the effort that went into the multi-media aspects.

Other DVDs of Les Troyens are available, including the recent one from the 2000 Salzburg Festival (Arthaus) and from 2003 that by the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris (Opus Arte). While those sets reflect more conventional stagings, the present DVD breaks convention in a modern rethinking that makes use of elements of sport, science-fiction and abstract modernism to re-envision Berlioz’s as a multi-media event. This resembles in some ways the recent Ring cycle from the same theatre. That also which also deployed projected film and other special effects in a re-conception of another nineteenth-century epic. Tastes will vary and some may view the aesthetic results as a mere juxtaposition of modernism and tradition. At bottom, though, the criterion is: how effective is this production and music-making in conveying the meaning of the work.

In terms of the musical quality, the performances are outstanding, starting with Gergiev’s exceptional leadership of this sometimes sprawling score. The orchestral sound is clear and focused, with a balance that allows the solo voices to be heard distinctively and the chorus to be supported solidly. The recorded sound benefits from the best aspects of studio work, without the sort of gaps one otherwise hears when singers turn or encounter dead spots on the stage. At the same time the stage machinery’s action does not intrude upon the recording as occurs in some DVDs. This allows Gergiev’s convincing interpretation to emerge readily.

As to the solo voices, the principals represent optimal casting with Elisabete Matos embodying well the character of Cassandra, and Gabriele Viviani comparable as Chorèbe. Their duet in the first act “C’est lui!” shows the two in an admirable light. Lance Ryan as Énée gives a strong reading of his part from the start, with the recitative “Du peuple et des soldats”, a section that benefits from the incisive way the singer approaches this passage and others. As Didon, Daniela Barcellona’s interpretation brings the nuance that characterizes her role, a crucial element in the second part of the opera. The performance benefits from the phrasing and articulation Barcellona contributes which, in turn, allows the details of her character to emerge effectively through the text and accompanying music. Barcellona is impressive from her first entrance in the scene with chorus “Gloire à Didon”, a point presented with sufficient pomp to work well. Yet her duet with Énée that concludes the fourth act “Noit d’ivresse” merits attention for the intimacy that emerges. Both Barcellona and Ryan demonstrate exemplary ensemble. Barcellona sustains her character through the climax of the fifth act, where Didon commits suicide and with that act allows Énée to continue his journey, an element that is implied in Berlioz’s score and is all the more powerful for being implicit rather than blazoned directly.

The chorus is also impressive because of its focused sound and clear diction, elements that are key to this work. In this interpretation the choral sound is dense in texture, even when the volume is subdued or even soft. The text is always clear, thus allowing the full effect of the crowd scenes where the masses are represented by the chorus. The results are as impressive vocally as they are visually.

As to that visual dimension, this has been described in the New York Times (10 November 2011), as "Ancient myth meets Star Wars” - a clever quip that does not do full justice to the Valencia production. In presenting Les Troyens in this fantastic setting, stage designer Roland Olbeter avoided some of the clichés which come with implementing our images of mythic antiquity. In doing so he makes free with space-age elements in the final act, as it looks forward from ancient Carthage to the future hegemony of Rome, a place Énée, the legendary Aeneas, has not yet founded. Touches like the space walk of Iopas allow some of the imagery to become concrete on stage, rather than remain figurative. Such interpretive design accentuates the climactic suicide of Didon with images of blood-red liquid flowing from her in a fountain, with her costume forming the upper portion of the structure.

Elsewhere the design makes use of filmed images to create some stunning effects, as with the usually painted backdrops of the sky - as found in the first part of act one - transformed into dynamic images of billowing clouds moving freely in the space behind the stage. Later in that part of the opera, the death of Laocoön who is slaughtered by vicious serpents, is part of the narrative. This is depicted by the impressive stage machinery as a larger-than-life display that connotes the mythic intervention of the Greek gods. Granted, it is not obligatory to include a depiction of this scene, but it certainly contributes visually along with the grandeur implicit in the story and in Berlioz’s setting.

While trailers exist on the Internet and show in quick succession a variety of the elements of this production, it is important to view this staging in real time, to gain a sense of the pacing of the stage effects, which fit well into the overall concept. Not everyone may share in the appreciation of the Trojan populace in soccer-style uniforms, but the overall impact supports the concept of the production. Likewise, the use of stylized uniforms offers a perspective on the military scenes in harmony with the overarching structure. These and other elements take the listener into the world of this score in ways that other, more ‘realistic’ approaches may not always do. As much as traditional settings may offer some comfort, the imagery behind this innovative reading complements the strong musical conception of Berlioz’s Les Troyens which is, after all, the focus of all the effort. This is powerful stuff and merits attention for a vivid performance that works visually to allow scenes and entire acts to remain in memory long after the final notes have faded.

James L. Zychowicz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

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

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      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

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

Nostalgia

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

Comment
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

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
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
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
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
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
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.