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Gluck: Alceste / Gardiner, Von Otter, Groves, Beuron

Release Date: 09/10/2002 
Label:  Philips   Catalog #: 470293   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Christoph W. Gluck
Performer:  Yann BeuronDietrich HenschelAnne Sofie von OtterJoanne Lunn,   ... 
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque SoloistsMonteverdi Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Gardiner illuminates Alceste's subtle colors and inflections, assisted by von Otter, whose perceptive performance as Alceste is one of emotional sincerity and spot-on vocal accuracy.

Despite being a watershed between baroque and classical opera - and a major influence on Mozart, Berlioz and even Wagner -Gluck (1714-87) is still best known today for one opera. Orfeo ed Euridice might be a masterpiece but it's one that has tended to overshadow his other fine achievements.

With this recording of Alceste, Sir John Eliot Gardiner redresses the balance and restores the most neglected of Gluck's great operas to its rightful place in the musical canon. The English conductor and early music specialist offers a
Read more reading of blistering psychological intensity and first-rate musical integrity. He also plugs an important gap on disc; the only other available recording of the 1776 Paris version of Alceste is 20 years old and features a musically marvellous but theatrically disengaged Jessye Norman in the title role.

Gardiner turns the full beam of his historically informed performance knowledge to the score, illuminating its subtle colours and harmonic inflections with a pace and power that never threaten to become too far, too fast. He's superbly abetted by mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, whose perceptive performance as Alceste is one of emotional sincerity and spot-on vocal accuracy.

There's not a weak link in the supporting cast, either, with the English Baroque Soloists providing a sympathetic cushion on which rest Dietrich Henschel's stirring and strong High Priest and American tenor Paul Groves' youthful and refined Admète. The Monteverdi Choir is equally impressive in its role as chorus.

It's all the more impressive as a recording for being taken live from recent concert performances at London's Barbican Centre.

Gluck is a pivotal figure in opera - not just because of the number of operas he wrote (more than 40) but because of the way he balanced the musical and dramatic elements of the form. Those latter qualities couldn't be better illustrated than in this fine Philips set. Highly recommended.

-- Andrew MacGregor, BBC Music Magazine Read less

Works on This Recording

Alceste by Christoph W. Gluck
Performer:  Yann Beuron (Tenor), Dietrich Henschel (Bass), Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo Soprano),
Joanne Lunn (Soprano), Katherine Fuge (Soprano), Ludovic Tézier (Baritone),
Nicolas Testé (Bass), Paul Groves (Tenor)
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists,  Monteverdi Choir
Period: Classical 
Written: 1767; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 10/1999 
Venue:  Barbican Hall, London, England 
Length: 134 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Language: French 
Notes: Ver: Paris version (1776) 

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