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Berlioz: La Révolution Grecque, Etc / Plasson


Release Date: 01/13/2004 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 57499   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Hector Berlioz
Performer:  David BismuthRolando VillazónFrank VillarsLaurent Naouri,   ... 
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole OrchestraLes Elements Chamber Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 3 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

These rarely recorded pieces typify two of Berlioz's chief characteristics: his capacity to perplex, astound and deafen the multitudes, and his equal ability to touch the inner imagination of the listener with the lightest of hands.

The pieces on these discs typify rather neatly two of Berlioz's chief characteristics: his capacity to perplex, astound and deafen the multitudes, and his equal ability to touch the inner imagination of the listener with the lightest of hands. The two aspects correspond roughly to the public and private Berlioz. The public Berlioz gets a good airing here. The earliest piece is the Scene Heroique, known as La Revolution grecque, which he wrote at the end of 1825, around his 22nd birthday. As
Read more Hugh Macdonald, general editor of The New Berlioz Edition says, it looks back to the revolutionary choruses of the 1790s with its cries of `victoire' and `triomphe' and this may be one reason why, after one performance in 1828, Berlioz claimed to have destroyed it — a claim he also made for the Messe solennelle written in 1824, but which has also survived. La Revolution is nothing like so interesting as the Mass, either for what it is or for what it portends, but there are the odd characteristic touches, such as the sudden emergence of soft, pliant material out of rumbustious noise. The energy, too, is of a voltage way above the ordinary for 1820s France, and Michel Plasson and his forces respond well. But unlike the Mass, this work lacks distinctive melodic material, even if the central `Priere' has some lovely sounds. Of the remaining public pieces, the Chant des chemins defer is highly entertaining and wonderfully fit for its purpose — the inauguration of the Paris-Lille railway line in 1846. Writing the piece took Berlioz either three whole nights, or three hours (voice parts) and one night (instrumentation), depending on which version you like to believe. Certainly one doesn't get the impression he agonised over it, and its directness is very much part of its charm — although what I take to be the odd encouraging vocals from the chorus master don't add anything of value. The Chanson boire is fun, the Chant guerrier downright weird, with rhythms and phrasing that barely make sense today. Much the finest work of all is Le Cinq mai, written in 1835 to commemorate the death of Napoleon. Greeks, booze and railways were one thing, the Emperor quite another, and Berlioz's admiration is reflected in the music's brooding intensity. He conducted it with regular success in his concerts despite what he called the 'abominable' literary quality of the verse, and despite what one sour reviewer referred to as the novel absence of bass drum and ophicleides. The excellent Chant sacri comes somewhere between being wholly public and wholly private. And it may be a problem for critics who, overtaxed by the bicentenary celebrations, have claimed Berlioz was unable to write a good tune. Most of the private pieces are familiar enough, and personally I can never hear Sara la baigneuse too often (soft porn transmuted into high art), while Le ballet des ombres (incidentally, one of Henri Dutilleux's favourite pieces) creates a world unlike any other.

The choir Les Elements sing with vigour and precision and the sopranos make a lovely sound. Plaudits, too, to David Bismuth for some virtuoso piano playing. As so often, I feel the chorus is placed too far from the microphone, and whereas in the pieces with piano this is not a problem, against the orchestra many of the words are really hard to catch. The three male soloists are placed further forward and all do well, even if Nicolas Rivenq's voice is a little dry at climaxes. Laurent Naouri is superb, Rolando VillazOn exciting, with only very occasional tuning trouble. All in all, these discs, giving us over an hour of Berlioz not available elsewhere in the catalogue, are very welcome.

-- Roger Nichols, Gramophone [5/2004]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sara la baigneuse, Op. 11 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra,  Les Elements Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1834/1850; France 
2.
Tristia, Op. 18 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra,  Les Elements Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831/1848; France 
3.
Le ballet des ombres, Op. 2 by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  David Bismuth (Piano)
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Elements Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; France 
4.
Mélodies irlandaises, Op. 2: no 6, Chant sacré by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Rolando Villazón (Tenor)
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra,  Les Elements Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
5.
Veni creator by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Elements Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 19th Century; France 
6.
Tantum ergo by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Frank Villars (Harmonium)
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Elements Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1877-1888; France 
7.
La révolution grecques by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Laurent Naouri (Bass), Nicolas Rivenq (Baritone)
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra,  Les Elements Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1825-1826; France 
8.
Le cinq mai, Op. 6 by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Nicolas Rivenq (Baritone)
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra,  Les Elements Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; France 
9.
La mort d'Orphée by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Rolando Villazón (Tenor)
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra,  Les Elements Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1827; France 
10.
Mélodies irlandaises, Op. 2: no 3, Chant guerrier by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Nicolas Rivenq (Baritone), David Bismuth (Piano), Rolando Villazón (Tenor)
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Elements Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
11.
Mélodies irlandaises, Op. 2: no 5, Chanson à boire by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Rolando Villazón (Tenor)
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra,  Les Elements Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
12.
Le chant des chemins de fer, Op. 19 no 3 by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Rolando Villazón (Tenor)
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra,  Les Elements Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845; France 
13.
Mélodies irlandaises, Op. 2: no 6, Chant sacré by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  David Bismuth (Piano), Rolando Villazón (Tenor)
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Elements Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
14.
Hymne pour la consécration du nouveau tabernacle by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  David Bismuth (Piano)
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Elements Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Beautiful choral music January 13, 2013 By Stephen Schoeman (Westfield, NJ) See All My Reviews "Berlioz, little appreciated during his life, should be appreciated today. He embodied the Romantic movement and brought to music wonderful orchestration in his inimitable original ways. This CD set contains gorgeous choral music which, as an added plus, is well performed and conducted. There is as well excellent solo singing. His large choral works such as in Les Troyens and La Damnation de Faust are not included. Rather we hear rarely performed works. These works will both delight and startle because of that originality for which Berlioz is known. He summarized his music in his memoirs in saying, "The ruling characteristics of my music are passionate expression, intense ardor, rhythmical animation, and unexpected turns." He was true to form in the music on this CD set. A must set for anyone who enjoys choral music and indeed for anyone who likes classical music. What other gems not widely known or performed may be found in the ArchivMusic collection of some 10,000 recordings? More than we can imagine!" Report Abuse
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