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Gounod: Faust / De Billy, Beczala, Youn, Isokoski

Gounod / Beczala / Youn / Erod / Isokoski
Release Date: 09/28/2010 
Label:  Orfeo   Catalog #: 805103  
Composer:  Charles Gounod
Performer:  Soile IsokoskiPiotr BeczalaKwangchul YounAdrian Eröd,   ... 
Conductor:  Bertrand De Billy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera ChorusVienna State Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

GOUNOD Faust Bertrand de Billy, cond; Piotr Beczala ( Faust ); Kwangchul Youn ( Méphistophélès ); Soile Isokoski ( Marguerite ); Adrian Eröd ( Valentin ); Michaela Selinger ( Siébel ); Zoryana Kushpler ( Marthe ); Hans Peter Read more Kammerer ( Wagner ); Vienna St Op O & Ch ORFEO C805 103D (3 CDs 162:34) Live: Vienna 9/5/09

In the booklet Bertrand de Billy writes an interesting analysis of the structure of Faust , pointing out that Gounod revised the opera from its original performance. De Billy justifies his inclusion of the first scene of the fourth act, and the Nuit de Walpurgis scene, which is often cut, as well as Siébel’s second aria, and justifies cutting the ballet music.

Although this is a non-French cast, most of the singers are competent in the use of the language. Piotr Beczala has some difficulties with the unaccented “e” sounds, and Kwangchul Youn’s vibrato mars his singing. However, Soile Isokoski sings quite well and sounds like a true French lyric soprano. Adrian Eröd has a lyric baritone that is just right for the role of Valentin. Michaela Selinger is a very good Siébel. Beczala has a strong voice and is not a very lyrical Faust, and he does not sing the high C in “Salut demeure” softly.Youn, despite his problems with vibrato, is a satisfactory Méphistophélès.

The virtue of this recording is that it restores much of the music that is usually cut in other recordings. As de Billy points out, there is no definite critical edition. His conducting is first-rate. The booklet also contains a listing of tracks, a synopsis of the opera in both English and French, and photos of the performance. The sound is excellent.

There are many competing recordings, a number of which are severely cut. Those opera fans who admire the old traditions as I do will find two old French recordings stylistically excellent. The Marston CD recording of the 1911–12 performance featuring Leon Béyle, André Gresse, Jean Noté, and Jeanne Campredon conducted by Francois Ruhlmann is excellent despite its ancient sound. Also the Legendary CD of the old recording featuring Marcel Journet, César Vezzani, Mireille Berthon, and Luis Musy conducted by Henri Büsser is stylistically excellent.

Despite the fact that the performance observes all of the cuts of the time, the Metropolitan broadcast of December 31, 1949, issued on Arkadia features my favorite Faust, Giuseppe di Stefano, whose magnificent diminuendo on the high C in “Salut demeure” is alone worth acquiring the recording. The rest of the cast—Dorothy Kirsten, Leonard Warren, and Italo Tajo—are all very good and are conducted by Wilfred Pelletier.

Because of its completeness and excellent conducting, this recording is also worth acquiring by those who relish a complete version of this opera.

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Works on This Recording

Faust by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Soile Isokoski (Soprano), Piotr Beczala (Tenor), Kwangchul Youn (Bass),
Adrian Eröd (Baritone), Michaela Selinger (Mezzo Soprano), Zoryana Kushpler (Mezzo Soprano),
Hans Peter Kammerer (Baritone)
Conductor:  Bertrand De Billy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna State Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
Date of Recording: 09/05/2009 
Venue:  Live Vienna 

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