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Berlioz: Les Troyens - Grand Scenes / Dutoit, Voigt


Release Date: 05/12/1998 
Label:  London/Decca Opera Gala Series Catalog #: 458208   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Gary LakesGregory CrossGino QuilicoMichel Philippe,   ... 
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony OrchestraMontreal Symphony Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

It is a tribute to the quality of Sir Cohn Davis's pioneering set of Berlioz's epic opera that it has remained unchallenged by any rival on record for a quarter-century.... Now comes Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, who over the last 15 years have established themselves as second to none in the French repertory, not only because of their idiomatic responsiveness to the music, but because of the consistent warmth and richness of their sound. Add to that here a largely French-speaking cast, on balance even more sensitive and tonally more beautiful than Davis's, plus two minor but valuable textual additions, and the advantage of the new over the old is clear. This is the swan-song of Decca's veteran record producer, Ray Minshull, Read more and he could not have a more glorious monument to celebrate his career.

... The spectacular range of the modern digital recording, richly detailed, allows the many tummy-wobbling low trombone notes to be heard with thrilling effect; in addition, the bass-drum beats regularly add a sinister threat, even in lyrical passages.

Interpretatively, the contrasts between Dutoit and Davis are quickly established at the very start of "La prise de Troie". Dutoit launches in at high voltage, more volatile than Davis, conveying exuberance, consistently preferring faster speeds.... The advantage of Dutoit's faster speeds—reflecting the metronome markings, as Minshull explains— comes not just in thrilling Allegros, but in flowing Andantes. So Cassandra's first solo is more persuasively moulded at a flowing speed, with Deborah Voigt far warmer than Bent Lindholm for Davis, both in her beauty of tone and in her espressivo phrasing. Lindholm is accurate, but her tone too readily becomes raw and throaty under pressure, where Voigt's portrait is far more feminine and movingly vulnerable. Nor is it just in lyrical passages where she has the advantage, for the vein of hysteria in Cassandra's character is more clearly established, and she crowns her performance at the end of Act 2, triumphantly leading the final ensemble of defiant Trojan women, more impetuously than her rival....

As Aeneas Gary Lakes may not have so richly heroic a voice as Jon Vickers for Davis, being rather more easily stressed at the top, but among today's tenors he is the most experienced of all in this role, having sung it close on two-dozen times on both sides of the Atlantic. His big advantage over Vickers, most of all in the great love scene with Dido in Act 3, is that he shades his voice far more subtly....

Though the role of Dido very often goes to a mezzo... here Decca firmly opt for a soprano, Francoise Pollet. One of the most exciting French singers to have appeared in years, she is in many ways an ideal choice, for as she points out herself: "The tessitura is medium-high, and there is the question of vocal colour as well. Dido is a loving woman, and hence a lyric approach is essential until the end, when she becomes embittered and dramatic." Very much attuned to the idiom, she sings consistently with full, even tone, so that, matching Dutoit's expressiveness and the richness of the Montreal sound, she brings out the feminine sensuousness of the role more than a mezzo normally would.

Such a passage as the central section of the Dido/Anna duet in Act 3 inspired her to legato of velvet beauty when, persuaded by Anna, she lets herself think of new love. That is one of the few passages in either half of the opera where Dutoit is significantly slower than Davis, and the tender beauty of the number is all the more intense, one of the loveliest passages of all. Anna is very well taken by another French singer, Helene Perraguin, with her firm, rich mezzo providing a clear contrast with Pollet....

There is barely a weak link in the rest of the huge cast. Catherine Dubosc makes a breathily boyish Ascanius, and Gregory Cross sings with sharp clarity in the tenor role of the spy, Sinon.... As for the chorus, Minshull in his notes pays tribute to the singers' involvement, and that comes out from first to last in what in many ways is as much a choral opera as Boris Godunov or Meistersinger, with passages of challenging complexity. Though on balance the Covent Garden Chorus for Davis sing with even crisper ensemble, the passionate commitment of the performance matches the fire of Dutoit's whole reading.

This is a thrilling set to have one marvelling afresh at the electric vitality of Berlioz's inspiration, and marvelling too that the formidable problems of recording so massive a work have been accomplished so confidently.... This is a historic set that takes its place among the great Berlioz recordings.

-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone [12/1994]
reviewing the complete opera recording
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Les troyens: Dieux protecteurs de la ville éternelle by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
Language: French 
2.
Les troyens: Du peuple et des soldats, ô roi! by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Gary Lakes (Tenor)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
3.
Les troyens: Châtiment effroyable! by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Gary Lakes (Tenor), Gregory Cross (Tenor), Gino Quilico (Baritone),
Michel Philippe (Bass), René Schirrer (Baritone), Catherine Dubosc (Soprano),
Deborah Voigt (Soprano), Claudine Carlson (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
Language: French 
4.
Les troyens: Que la déesse nous protège by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  René Schirrer (Baritone), Deborah Voigt (Soprano), Claudine Carlson (Mezzo Soprano),
Gino Quilico (Baritone), Michel Philippe (Bass), Gregory Cross (Tenor),
Gary Lakes (Tenor)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
Language: French 
5.
Les troyens: Non, je ne verrai pas by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Deborah Voigt (Soprano)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
Language: French 
6.
Les troyens: Du roi des dieux, ô fille aimée by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Deborah Voigt (Soprano)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
7.
Les troyens: De Carthage les cieux semblent bénir la fête! by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
8.
Les troyens: Gloire à Didon by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
9.
Les troyens: Royal hunt and storm by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
10.
Les troyens: Mais bannissons ces tristes souvenirs by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Françoise Pollet (Soprano), Catherine Dubosc (Soprano), Hélène Perraguin (Mezzo Soprano),
Jean-Luc Maurette (Tenor), Jean-Phillipe Courtis (Bass), Michel Philippe (Bass),
Gary Lakes (Tenor)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
11.
Les troyens: Nuit d'ivresse by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Michel Beauchemin (Bass), Françoise Pollet (Soprano), Gary Lakes (Tenor)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
12.
Les troyens: Inutiles regrets...Ah! quand viendra l'instant by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Gary Lakes (Tenor)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
13.
Les troyens: Je vais mourir...Adieu, fière cité by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Françoise Pollet (Soprano)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
14.
Les troyens: Dieux de l'oubli by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Hélène Perraguin (Mezzo Soprano), Jean-Phillipe Courtis (Bass)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
15.
Les troyens: D'un malheureux amour...Mon souvenir vivra by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Françoise Pollet (Soprano)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
Notes: This selection begins with "Pluton...semble m'être propice..." 
16.
Les troyens: Quels cris!...Haine éternelle by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Hélène Perraguin (Mezzo Soprano), Françoise Pollet (Soprano)
Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 

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