Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Described as a ‘sacred trilogy’, Berlioz’s oratorio L’enfance du Christ began as a short piece called Shepherds’ Farewell. It tells the story of the birth of Jesus and the journey of the Holy Family as they escape Bethlehem and head across Egypt to the city of Saïs. Unlike many of the composer’s more flamboyant works, it is an exquisite and gentle composition scored for relatively small forces.
R E V I E W S:
This is the third time Colin Davis has recorded L'enfance du Christ. The first, from 1960, was relaxed and had a very dramatic Narrator in Peter Pears; the
second, from 1976, was somewhat quicker but was just as diaphonously lovely; this new recording, with tempos about the same as in 1976, strikes me as the finest. This isn't a work that dazzles. For all of Berlioz's fondness for bombast and grandeur, this piece is undemonstrative, reflective, and subtle.
This set is instantly recommendable for Yann Beuron's Narrator. He is quintessentially French and sings with a directness and innocence that suit the story perfectly, and his sound is always handsome. Karen Cargill and William Dazeley make an ideal Holy Couple, their difficulties clear, their feelings and plight filled with unexaggerated drama. Matthew Rose sings Herod with just the right level of torment and confusion.
Davis' understanding of Berlioz's layering of sounds remains unsurpassed. The woodwinds have great color and texture and when Berlioz strips the orchestration almost bare the effect is hypnotic. The Tenebrae Choir sings brilliantly at all dynamic levels and with absolute clarity, and in the most pious moments the effect is positively heavenly. This is a work that must be delivered with grace and love, and this performance offers both. The recording is clear and intimate, but you occasionally can hear what sounds like the conductor making little noises to himself. Noises or not, this is a stunner and highly recommended.
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
‘Beuron, probably today's finest lyric tenor, gives the performance an essential idiomatic core in his narration ... [Tenebrae are] dramatically alert and glowing as stained glass, the angelic messages skin-pricklingly ethereal.’
BBC Music Magazine, September 2007
‘If ever a conductor lived the works of a composer, it’s Davis with Berlioz. The London Symphony Orchestra play with delicacy, the Tenebrae Choir are immaculate, and there’s an impeccable set of soloists’
Classical CD of the Week
The Independent on Sunday, 29 July 2007
'Sir Colin Davis worked his magic with Berlioz yet again ... Sir Colin assembled a fine cast of soloists ... and choirs and orchestra sing and play superlatively'
Sunday Telegraph, 19 August 2007
‘life-enhancing … The Narrator’s strengths leap out immediately. He’s Yann Beuron … Plus he’s French: an obvious boon in a language where inflection means so much. Here, the chamber choir Tenebrae excel themselves: wonder radiates from every securely focused, cleanly voiced chord. They’re the performance’s rock … nothing here, not a growl, not a rasp, ruins the magic of L’Enfance du Christ’
‘[Sir Colin Davis's] revisitation of this truly classic score is utterly and totally compelling’
International Record Review
Works on This Recording
L'enfance du Christ, Op. 25 by Hector Berlioz
Yann Beuron (Tenor),
William Dazeley (Baritone),
Karen Cargill (Mezzo Soprano),
Matthew Rose (Bass),
Peter [bass voice] Rose (Bass)
Sir Colin Davis
London Symphony Orchestra,
Written: 1850-1854; France
Featured Sound Samples
Part I: Scene 1: Marche nocturne
Part III: Scene 2: "Entrez, pauvres Hébreux"
Part III: Scene 2: Trio for 2 Flutes and Harp
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