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Ben Heppner - Airs Français / Myung-whun Chung, London So


Release Date: 11/13/2001 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 471372   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Hector BerliozJules MassenetGiacomo MeyerbeerJacques Halévy,   ... 
Performer:  Ben HeppnerPaul Silverthorne
Conductor:  Myung-Whun Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony OrchestraLondon Voices
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

A few decades from now, someone will put together a series of recordings devoted to "the greatest tenors of the 21st century". Will Ben Heppner be featured on one of these? Most likely more than one. What other conclusion can you reach after hearing these splendiferous performances of French arias, presented as the Canadian singer's debut under his new, exclusive DG contract? To begin with, there's nothing really typical about this recital, from the choice of repertoire--extended arias from some of the less-traveled operatic territory--to this revered label's confirmation of big-budget stature on an artist who's neither a "three tenor" nor a singer under the age of 14. No, this is really grown-up stuff, and Heppner Read more proves not only a seasoned and commanding presence, but an artist of the highest magnitude, with the vocal equipment and musical intelligence to at once rivet an audience to its seats and compel it to spontaneously rise in a collective ovation.

Not one of these arias is a safe walk in the park for any tenor; all require a marathon runner's stamina and demand extremes of technique and range. Only a singer in top form and with a voice that's both powerful and versatile will successfully negotiate, for example, the tortuous phrases (and high B-flats, Bs, and D-flat) of "Seul pour lutter" from Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini--which Heppner does with virtually no strain (and apparently no fear). He really takes us inside these scenes, thanks in part to the length of most of the selections; but it's primarily his confident dramatic sense and his ability to communicate that gives an impression of a live stage presentation rather than a studio effort. Listen to how Heppner movingly portrays the tormented emotions of the father in the 11-minute-long "Rachel, quand du Seigneur" from Halévy's La Juive, and to how he captures the prayerful mood of Massenet's "Ô Souverain, ô juge, ô père", and then elevates this lovely melody and its character's compelling spiritual vision to one of the more affecting displays of pure vocal artistry that you'll ever hear.

The singing is consistently grand and eloquent, rich in tone, unflagging in quality and smooth as glass across registers, showing as good an example as you'll find of a singer well-matched with material. Not surprisingly, Heppner's heroes are Fritz Wunderlich and Jussi Bjoerling, and in this singer's every note and phrase you can hear the lyricism, textual awareness, and consummate musicality that's a tribute to those legends. And just when you're suspecting that he's got even more in reserve, Heppner confirms it with a majestically swelling crescendo or burst of power that soars in perfect complement to his equally impressive soft, tender moments. The disc's last track, Berlioz's wildly wonderful arrangement of La Marseillaise, is a brilliant if slightly quirky finale. Myung-Whun Chung is a splendid collaborator who gives full rein to his orchestra where required but never fails to give the ultimate power and glory to the singer. The one disappointment here is the sound: the orchestra is strangely recessed and constricted, which gives the recording an old-timey ambience that doesn't suit the repertoire or conform to the standard of today's best digital engineering. However, that condition didn't stop me from listening to this at least five of six times already--and I'm certain it won't prove an obstacle to anyone who wants to get in on a chance to hear one of the 21st century's greatest tenors without waiting 20 or 30 years for those special tribute recordings to come out.
--David Vernier , ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Les troyens: Inutiles regrets...Ah! quand viendra l'instant by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Ben Heppner (Tenor)
Conductor:  Myung-Whun Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Voices
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
Date of Recording: 2001 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, London, England 
Length: 6 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Language: French 
2. La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Nature immense by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Ben Heppner (Tenor)
Conductor:  Myung-Whun Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Voices
Period: Romantic 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 2001 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, London, England 
Length: 5 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Language: French 
Notes: Composition written: France (1845 - 1846). 
3. Benvenuto Cellini: Seul pour lutter, seul avec mon courage by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Ben Heppner (Tenor)
Conductor:  Myung-Whun Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Voices
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1834-1837; France 
Date of Recording: 2001 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, London, England 
Length: 8 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Language: French 
4. Sapho: Qu'il est loin mon pays by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Ben Heppner (Tenor)
Conductor:  Myung-Whun Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Voices
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897/1909; France 
Date of Recording: 2001 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, London, England 
Length: 4 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Language: French 
Notes: This selection begins with "Ce monde que je vois..." 
5. L'Africaine: O paradis sorti de l'onde by Giacomo Meyerbeer
Performer:  Ben Heppner (Tenor)
Conductor:  Myung-Whun Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Voices
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1865; Germany 
Date of Recording: 2001 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, London, England 
Length: 6 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Language: French 
Notes: This selection begins with "Pays merveilleux..." 
6. Les Huguenots: Plus blanche que la blanche hermine by Giacomo Meyerbeer
Performer:  Ben Heppner (Tenor), Paul Silverthorne (Viola)
Conductor:  Myung-Whun Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Voices
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836; Germany 
Date of Recording: 2001 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, London, England 
Length: 6 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Language: French 
7. Béatrice et Bénédict: Ah! Je vais l'aimer by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Ben Heppner (Tenor)
Conductor:  Myung-Whun Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Voices
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1860-1862; France 
Date of Recording: 2001 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, London, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Language: French 
8. La juive: Rachel, quand du Seigneur by Jacques Halévy
Performer:  Ben Heppner (Tenor)
Conductor:  Myung-Whun Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Voices
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 2001 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, London, England 
Length: 10 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Language: French 
9. Le Cid: O Souverain, ô juge, ô père by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Ben Heppner (Tenor)
Conductor:  Myung-Whun Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Voices
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1885; France 
Date of Recording: 2001 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, London, England 
Length: 5 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Language: French 
Notes: Thi selection begins with "Ah...tout est bien fini!..." 
10. Le Prophète: Roi du ciel by Giacomo Meyerbeer
Performer:  Ben Heppner (Tenor)
Conductor:  Myung-Whun Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Voices
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1849; Germany 
Date of Recording: 2001 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, London, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Language: French 
11. La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Merci, doux crépuscule! by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Ben Heppner (Tenor)
Conductor:  Myung-Whun Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Voices
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845-1846; France 
Date of Recording: 2001 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, London, England 
Length: 5 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Language: French 
12. Le Cid: O noble lame étincelante by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Ben Heppner (Tenor)
Conductor:  Myung-Whun Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Voices
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1885; France 
Date of Recording: 2001 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, London, England 
Length: 4 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Language: French 
13. Chant de guerre pour l'armée du Rhin "La marseillaise" by Claude-Joseph de Lisle
Performer:  Ben Heppner (Tenor)
Conductor:  Myung-Whun Chung
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Voices
Period: Classical 
Written: 1792; France 
Date of Recording: 2001 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, London, England 
Length: 4 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Language: French 
Notes: Arranged: Hector Berlioz 

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