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Berlioz: The Trojans / Shuard, Elms, Thebom, Vickers, Kubelik

Berlioz / Shuard / Elms / Thebom / Vickers / Kelly
Release Date: 08/11/2009 
Label:  Testament   Catalog #: 1443  
Composer:  Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Lauris ElmsEdgar EvansRonald LewisDavid [bass baritone] Kelly,   ... 
Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden OrchestraRoyal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 3 Hours 43 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Gramophone Award finalist, 2009.

Recorded live at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 20 June 1957 From our privileged position, half a century on, there may be a temptation to feel superior and to undervalue the 1957 Covent Garden Trojans and what it achieved. We hear these distant sounds with ears familiar with the work from performances - conducted by the likes of Colin Davis, Alexander Gibson, Michael Gielen, Roger Norrington, John Eliot Gardiner, James Levine and others - more assured, more accurate and fuller than was possible for those worthy pioneers, tackling it for the first time. They had to make do with inaccurate performing material hired from the Paris firm of Choudens, disfigured by mistakes (including a
Read more clangorous clarinet wrong note - E natural instead of E flat - in Act 3, just after Aeneas' "Come, child, embrace thy father"). The New Berlioz Edition full score was still no more than a twinkle in the eye of its future editor, Hugh Macdonald. So, in defiance of dramatic sense, the Royal Hunt and Storm was played after the garden scene instead of before, simply because that was where it figured in the Choudens material, having been omitted from the 1864 vocal score and then, later, put back in the wrong place. We may well raise our eyebrows at the cuts that were made in 1957: a sizeable chunk of the Act 3 ceremonies and most of the scene in Dido's room in Act 5, as well as six bars removed from the processional entry of the Wooden Horse. And some of Rafael Kubelík's tempos may strike us as strangely excessive, sometimes hectically fast - the chorus' C-major Allegro vivace in the opening scene, the Wrestlers' Dance - at other times dragging - Corebus' cavatina, Dido's "Farewell, Carthage of mine". But all this would be to miss the point. What Kubelík and his performers achieved in 1957 and in the revivals of 1958 and 1960 (the latter conducted by John Pritchard) was absolutely crucial. It changed everything. At a stroke the whole picture was transformed. The Covent Garden production vindicated Berlioz's original conception of a 5-act opera embracing Troy and Carthage in a single span, and his belief in the greatness of the work, and it did so in the face of a century of hostile, dismissive opinion. Extract from the booklet note David Cairns, 2009

R E V I E W S:

"As this fascinating if flawed set of discs reveals, the Royal Opera House's ­relationship with Berlioz's magnum opus extends back even farther than the performances that Colin Davis conducted there in the late 1960s, which led to the first ever complete recording of the score...By today's standards, the ­performances are uneven – much of this music was virtually unknown to most of those involved, after all – but the best of them, Amy Shuard's Cassandra and ­particularly Jon Vickers's Aeneas, stand comparison with any. It may not be a ­definitive account of the work – one or other of Davis's recordings stands as that – but it is an important historical document that all Berlioz enthusiasts will want to hear."

-- Andrew Clements, The Guardian (UK)
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Works on This Recording

Les troyens by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Lauris Elms (Mezzo Soprano), Edgar Evans (Tenor), Ronald Lewis (Baritone),
David [bass baritone] Kelly (Bass), Forbes Robinson (Bass), Dermot Troy (Tenor),
Joseph Rouleau (Bass), Jess Walters (Baritone), Jon Vickers (Tenor),
Amy Shuard (Soprano), Michael Langdon (Bass), Blanche Thebom (Mezzo Soprano),
Richard Verreau (Tenor), Joan Carlyle (Soprano), Rhydderch Davies (Baritone),
Robert Allman (Baritone)
Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
Date of Recording: 1957 
Venue:  Covent Garden 

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