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Poulenc: Dialogues Des Carmelites / Dervaux, Duval

Release Date: 10/02/2001 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 67135   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Xavier DeprazGisčle DesmoutiersDenise DuvalLiliane Berton,   ... 
Conductor:  Pierre Dervaux
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera ChorusParis Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 2 Hours 24 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Dervaux conducts an inspired performance, attentive to both its smaller detail and to its grander, elevated passages, raising the final scene of martyrdom to a proper degree of intensity as some inner strength and group-fervour grips the nuns.

This is a very welcome reissue of a classic and irreplaceable recording made in 1958 at the time of the first French performances of the work. Hailed as a rewarding addition to the slim twentieth-century list of repertory works, Dialogues des Carmelites then fell somewhat into neglect, but in recent years it has regained much of its original respect. Its concise almost hypnotic mode of writing is allied to a subject of universal and compelling interest—how an enclosed group copes
Read more with matters of life and death, and of personal and group pyschology—which is both of its own and of every time. In the history of French opera it is a worthy successor to Pelléas and indeed its touching heroine Blanche shares much of the troubling, troubled, out-of-this-world, fey personality of her predecessor. As for the writing, Poulenc is as accomplished a master at setting the French language in a melodic yet at the same quasiparlando style as Massenet, and his use of a large orchestra is at once fastidious and convincing, conservative but never derivative, though inevitably there are influences, mostly beneficial ones.

It is evident from these records that the singers were inspired by the piece to give of their considerable best. With the benefit of hindsight we can judge that this was a final flowering of the authentic school of French singing. Denise Duval is part of the long line of clear-voiced, incisive sopranos in the Héldy mould. She catches here all the conflicting facets of Blanche's personality, girlish, wilful, frightened, elated as the role requires. Crespin, even though at this early stage of her career, was already not altogether happy above a high G, is a moving, authoritative Madame Lidoine. Still better is Rita Gorr's commanding yet sympathetic Mother Marie and Denise Scharley's haunted and haunting Old Prioress, quite devastatingly desparate in her death scene. Liliane Berton is a charming Sister Constance, and the smaller roles are finely taken, not least Louis Rialland as the hapless, helpless Chaplain.

Pierre Dervaux conducts an inspired, inspiriting account of the work, attentive to both its smaller detail and to its grander, elevated passages, raising the final scene of martyrdom to a proper degree of intensity as some inner strength and group-fervour grips the nuns. As compared with the vocal score, there are a few cuts and changes in the voice parts, both sanctioned by Poulenc. The mono recording is more than adequate, but CD does reveal some uncomfortable tape edits. Text and translation are included. For anyone interested in twentieth-century opera, this is a 'must': we are unlikely to have another recording and certainly not one so authentic as this.

-- Gramophone [7/1988]
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Works on This Recording

Dialogues des carmélites by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Xavier Depraz (Bass), Gisčle Desmoutiers (Soprano), Denise Duval (Soprano),
Liliane Berton (Soprano), Rita Gorr (Mezzo Soprano), Paul Finel (Tenor),
Janine Fourrier (Soprano), Denise Scharley (Soprano), Louis Rialland (Tenor),
Régine Crespin (Soprano), René Bianco (Baritone), Jacques Mars (Baritone),
Raphael Romagnoni (Tenor), Charles Paul (Baritone), Michel Forel (Tenor),
Max Conti (Baritone)
Conductor:  Pierre Dervaux
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Chorus,  Paris Opera Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953-1956; France 
Date of Recording: 01/1958 
Venue:  Salle de la Mutualité, Paris, France 
Length: 143 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Language: French 

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