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Opera Classics - Berlioz: La Damnation De Faust / Casadesus


Release Date: 05/16/2006 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8660116   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Marie-Ange TodorovitchAlain VernhesRené SchirrerPhilippe Gérard,   ... 
Conductor:  Jean-Claude Casadesus
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lille National OrchestraSlovak Philharmonic Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The Damnation of Faust, like so many of Berlioz's larger works, has not been terribly lucky on disc, but this live performance belongs near the top of the heap. It has those qualities that we have come to identify as particularly "French": clarity, good rhythm, careful attention to detail, bright colors, and a certain unsentimental directness that serves the music particularly well while never precluding real passion. It also captures that sense of urgency, of feverishness, that makes Berlioz so hard to perform. Perhaps it's the circumstance of live performance, but the piece comes off sounding fresh, spontaneous, and free of dead spots, and that's saying a lot. The orchestra plays brilliantly, and the Slovak Philharmonic Choir Read more sounds like it's having the time of its life (particularly the carousing students and soldiers at the end of Part II).


The soloists are very good, if not quite perfect. Best is Alain Vernhes, who hams up Mephistopheles with vaudevillian relish. Marie-Ange Todorovitch sounds a bit matronly as Marguerite, and she rushes through her "King of Thule" ballad, but she rises to the occasion in "D'amour l'ardente flamme", which has plenty of feeling. As Faust, Michael Myers starts to sound pretty stressed in the second half of the work, no doubt one drawback in recording live, but he and Todorovitch turn in a wonderfully impulsive and intense love duet, and the "Ride to the Abyss" is thrilling. The entire scene in pandemonium is as well done as it ever has been, with Casadesus and company pulling out all of the stops, while the conclusion in heaven avoids any hint of saccharine religiosity.


There are a few other good performances out there: Gardiner, Ozawa, and best of all Markevitch (slightly cut), and all have their particular strengths and weaknesses. This one certainly has the finest sound, and if pressed to choose a version that really does capture the work in all of its myriad facets, I would be remiss in not giving this newcomer a strong recommendation. The only slight drawback is the lack of libretto, which you can find easily enough on the Naxos website. In sum, this is a very pleasant surprise, and unquestionably a major release. The budget price really seals the deal.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. La damnation de Faust, Op. 24 by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Marie-Ange Todorovitch (Mezzo Soprano), Alain Vernhes (Baritone), René Schirrer (Bass),
Philippe Gérard (English Horn), Michael Myers (Tenor)
Conductor:  Jean-Claude Casadesus
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lille National Orchestra,  Slovak Philharmonic Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845-1846; France 
Venue:  Live  New Century Auditorium, Lille, France 
Length: 123 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Language: French 
Notes: New Century Auditorium, Lille, France (11/04/2003 - 11/05/2003) 

Sound Samples

La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part I Scene 1: Le vieil hiver a fait place (Faust)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part I Scene 2: Les bergers laissent leur troupeaux, "Peasants' Dance" (Chorus, Faust)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part I Scene 3: Mais d'un eclat guerrier (Faust)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part I Scene 3: Hungarian March, "Rakoczy March"
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part II Scene 4: Sans regrets j'ai quitte les riantes campagnes (Faust)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part II Scene 4: Easter Hymn: Christ vient de ressusciter! (Chorus, Faust)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part II Scene 4: Helas! Doux chants du ciel (Faust)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part II Scene 5: O pure emotion! (Mephistopheles, Faust)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part II Scene 6: A boire encor! (Chorus, Mephistopheles)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part II Scene 6: Oh! Qu'il fait bon! (Chorus, Brander)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part II Scene 6: Certain rat, dans une cuisine, "Brander's Song" (Brander, Chorus)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part II Scene 6: Amen, amen, amen!, "Fugue on Brander's Song" (Brander, Chorus)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part II Scene 6: Vrai dieu! Messieurs (Mephistopheles, Chorus)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part II Scene 6: Une puce gentille, "Mephistopheles Song" (Mephistopheles, Chorus)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part II Scene 6: Assez! Fuyons ces lieux (Faust)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part II Scene 7: Voici des roses (Mephistopheles)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part II Scene 7: Dors! Dors! Heureux Faust!, "Faust's Dream" (Chorus of Gnomes and Sylphs, Mephistopheles, Faust)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part II Scene 7: Dance of the Sylphs
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part II Scene 7: Margarita! Qu'ai-je vu? (Faust, Mephistopheles)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part II Scene 8: Finale: Villes entourees (Chorus of Soldiers and Students)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part III Scene 9: Drums and Trumpets Play the Retreat
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part III Scene 9: Merci, doux crepuscule!, "Faust's Aria" (Faust)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part III Scene 10: Je l'entends! (Mephistopheles)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part III Scene 11: Que l'air est etouffant! (Marguerite)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part III Scene 11: Autrefois un roi de Thule, "The King of Thule" (Marguerite)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part III Scene 12: Evocation: Esprits des flammes inconstantes (Mephistopheles)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part III Scene 12: Minuet of the Wills-o'-the-Wisp
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part III Scene 12: Maintenant, Chantons a cette belle (Mephistopheles)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part III Scene 12: Devant la maison, "Serenade of Mephistopheles", (Mephistopheles, Chorus of Wills-o'-the-Wisp)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part III Scene 13: Duet: Grand Dieu! Que vois-je! (Marguerite, Faust)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part III Scene 14: Trio and Chorus: Allons! Il est trop tard! (Mephistopheles, Marguerite, Faust)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part III Scene 14: Hola, mere Oppenheim (Chorus of Neighbours in the Street)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part IV Scene 15: Romance: D'amour l'ardente flamme (Marguerite)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part IV Scene 15: Au son des trompettes (Chorus of Soldiers, Marguerite)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part IV Scene 16: Nature immense, impenetrable, "Invocation to Nature" (Faust)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part IV Scene 17: Recitative and Chase: A la voute azuree (Mephistopheles, Faust)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part IV Scene 18: Dans mon coeur retentit sa voix, "The Ride to the Abyss" (Faust)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part IV Scene 19: Pandemonium: Irimiru Karabrao! (Chorus of the Damned and the Demons)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part IV Scene 19: Alors, l'Enfer se tut, "Epilogue on Earth" (Chorus)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part IV Scene 20: Laus! Laus! Hosanna! (Chorus)
La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Part IV Scene 20: Remonte au ciel, "Margarita's Glorification" (Chorus)

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