Massenet: Werther / Sir Colin Davis, Carreras, Von Stade

Release Date: 3/13/2012
Label: Decca
Catalog Number: 001651002
Composer: Jules Massenet
Conductor: Sir Colin Davis
Number of Discs: 2

Physical Format:

Low Stock
Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a great performance of Massenet's maudlin melodrama. In 1980, when it was recorded, José Carreras was only a few years past his prime, and only his high notes are really affected: there's some strain, and there's an uncomfortable shifting of gears above G. But anything lower than that is just gorgeous, his honeyed tone still intact, his ardency potent. If he lacks that extra, vaguely insane sense of being transported by the universe and Charlotte, well, he has enough urgency to make up for it. In fact, there's occasionally a bit too much urgency, bordering on flailing. And he sings in beautifully enunciated French. About Frederica von Stade's Charlotte there isn't enough praise. Her mezzo is used with a dozen degrees between piano and forte, and her rapture is as real as her self-denial. Her Charlotte is fragile at times, resolute at others--but always with a note of sadness that is the cornerstone of the role. Thomas Allen is a knowing Albert, not cruel, but wise, and Isobel Buchanan does more than just chirp as Sophie. The rest of the cast is splendid. Colin Davis leads the fine Covent Garden forces and soloists with lots of give-and-take, great shading, and sensitivity. The sound is superb and realistic--for example, when Charlotte races off in Act 3, there's a real sense of departure and distance to her tone. The track listing still quaintly offers chapters within tracks, which I haven't seen in a long time. This production may not capture the opera's ethos as ideally as the oldest Werther available (with Vallin and Thill), but it's as good as or better than the rest of the fine competition. [10/28/2004]

-- Robert Levine,
reviewing this recording previously reissued as Philips 4754962
Works on This Recording
1. Werther by Jules Massenet
Performer: Robert Lloyd (Bass), Thomas Allen (Baritone), Linda Humphries (Soprano), Isobel Buchanan (Soprano), Frederica Von Stade (Mezzo Soprano), José Carreras (Tenor), Paul Crook (Tenor), Malcolm King (Bass), Donaldson Bell (Bass)
Conductor: Sir Colin Davis
Period: Romantic
Written: 1892 ; France
Customer Reviews