Customer Reviews for

Les Miserables [Red Ink Complete Symphonic Recording Box]

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

And the winner is....

All of the commercially available recordings of Les Miserables have something great to offer, and which recording is best for you really depends on who your favorite characters are. For Valjean there are only two choices, Gary Morris on the CSR and Colm Wilkinson of al...
All of the commercially available recordings of Les Miserables have something great to offer, and which recording is best for you really depends on who your favorite characters are. For Valjean there are only two choices, Gary Morris on the CSR and Colm Wilkinson of all the others (OLC, OBC, and TAC). The more I listen to Colm Wilkinson, the more I appreciate Gary Morris simply because he's different. Morris is certainly not everyone's favorite, but he really does shine as the complete charater. His " Valjean's Soliloquy" is amazing, " Bring Him Home" is more subtley sung by Wilkinson, particularly on the TAC and the weight and power of Wilkinson's mature voice is a joy to hear on the TAC. I gotta say, though, I do like Gary Morris (Except for his " Who Am I?," not his best...). There are other Valjeans out there, try to find Randall Keith singing " Bring Him Home," you'll never hear a more tender and heart-felt rendion. Ruthie Henshall on the TAC is my absolute favorite Fantine. Her vulnerability and frailty is palpable. She sings " I Dreamed a Dream" with such sadness and desperation, you can't help but be moved. Ruthie's the best, but Patti Lupone on the OLC is also amazing. You really can't go wrong with either one. Randy Graff (OBC) is perhaps a little too strong for Fantine, and Debbie Byrne (CSR) seems to grate on many people's nerves, though I don't find her voice offensive. For Javert there is only one real choice: Philip Quast on the TAC. He also sings on the CSR, but his rich, powerful baritone is in full bloom on the TAC. Terrence Mann was very new to singing on the OBC, and while his voice has improved admirable over time, he just is not imposing enough for Javert. Roger Allam is just awful on the OLC. My favorite Cosette is Rebecca Caine on the OLC. Her wonderfully youthful tone is refreshing and innocent--perfect for the character. Judy Khun appears on the OBC and the TAC. Earlier is better for her. When the OBC recording was made, she had not yet tackled roles which required her to belt and on the TAC, we can hear the beginnings of strain in her vibrato and upper register. Tracy Shane (CSR) is also youthful sounding, but comes off sounding canned. Lea Salonga is the most finely sung Eponine on record. There is nothing lacking in her performance. Perhaps some would want a rougher-sounding Eponine, but not me! Francis Ruffelle sings on both the OBC and the OLC. London is the one to own, it's actually hard to believe this is the same person. On the OLC Ruffelle is vulnerable and engaging with just the right amount of edge to her voice. On the OBC she is harsh and seems to resort to shouting many of her lines, singing " On My Own" completely in her nose. The only recording on which Michael Ball does not appear as Marius is the OBC where David Bryant asumes the role. While Bryant isn't horrible, the youthful Ball on the OLC and CSR is the way to go. On the TAC he goes too far and while clearly enjoying himself and the atmosphere of the live recording, he also clearly enjoys the sond of his own voice more. Enjolras is a toss-up between Michael Maguire on the OBC (for the love of all that is holy not on the TAC!!!)and Anthony Warlow on the CSR. My vote is for Warlow. His voice is powerful, his technique secure and his tone capable of being both warm and heroic. David Burt is not worth hearing on the OLC. You can't go wrong with the Thenardiers on the TAC (Alun Armstrong and Jenny Galloway also appear on the OLC). The energy the give and receive to and from the audience is amazing. The CSR has the best orchestra, the TAC has the best emsemble and the OBC has the best orchestrations, though it's cool to hear the originals on the OLC. So that's it! Something for everyone on every single recording! Hope this helps make your decisions!!

posted by Anonymous on October 1, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Bought it used – thank God!

“Les Miserables” is a marvelous musical a stunningly faithful interpretation of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, with an inspiring storyline and unforgettable characters. There are 4 major full-length English versions available (Original London Cast, Original Broadwa...
“Les Miserables” is a marvelous musical a stunningly faithful interpretation of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, with an inspiring storyline and unforgettable characters. There are 4 major full-length English versions available (Original London Cast, Original Broadway Cast, Complete Symphonic Recording, and Tenth Anniversary Concert). The truth is, that if you were marooned on that proverbial desert island, any of them would be better than none, but we normally have the luxury of choice. There are 2 reasons for buying a Les Mis CD – (1) you’ve seen a performance and want ONE CD to remind you of it or (2) you’ve become a les Mis junkie (like me) and want multiple versions so you too can hold forth on the rival merits of Andy Warlow vs Michael Maguire, Patty LuPone vs Ruthie Henshaw, Frances Ruffelle vs Kaho Shimada vs Lea Solonga. If you are in the first category, you really want the Tenth Anniversary Concert. The TAC has the complete storyline (albeit slightly abridged), it was recorded live (so there’s an unique intensity and chemistry between performers), and from top to bottom it has by far the best cast. However, if you’re a serious Les Mis fan, you should buy this CD (in addition), simply because it does have the complete score. (The trouble with THAT is that it includes practically the only misstep in the whole script – if Jean Valjean has his number branded on his chest, then how is it credible that someone else will be convicted in his place?) I bought it for that reason and to hear other interpretations of the roles (in particular Andy Warlow’s). I have all 4 versions, and they have all have their pluses and minuses, but frankly, I’m glad I didn’t pay full price for this one. This version has a rather weak cast in general, but that does add to the fun arguing about it. On the plus side, it has Philip Quast ( THE BEST Javert, but he’s even better on the TAC), Michael Ball (THE BEST Marius, also on the OLC and TAC versions), and Andy Warlow (a stirring Enjorlas for sure, but not THAT much better than Michael Maguire on the OBC and TAC). The scenes at the barricade are the best part of the CD. Kaho Shimada is an uneven Eponine, OK sometimes, less so at others. Debbie Byrne (Fantine) is OK, but I don’t find her as moving as Patty LuPone (OLC) or Ruthie Henshaw (TAC). Tracy Shayne (Cosette) is irratating, not nearly as sweet as Judy Kuhn (OLB and TAC) or Rebecca Caine (OLC). I find Barry James and especially Gay Soper (M. and Mme. Thenardier) grating as well. I really miss Colm Wilkinson (OLC, OBC and TAC). OK, he has a unique singing style, but such heart. Not always perfect, but so powerful and emotional. All his solos and “Confrontation” just stop me dead in my tracks. The sweetness and purity of his “Bring Him Home” and “Epilogue” move me to tears. But really, there must be someone else who can do at least an adequate job or the show wouldn’t have run so long in so many venues. I am willing to listen to another interpretation, but not this one. This is the central role in the play, it really can’t survive without a good performance here. Gary Morris is horrible as Jean Valjean, cringe-provoking at times, merely weak at others. It’s not really his voice, it’s his acting (or lack thereof). Instead of powerful and tragic, he sounds petulant and whiney. He’s totally overmatched by Quast in “Confrontation” and by everyone in “One Day More” and “Epilogue”. I haven’t tried the recommendation of one reviewer of listening while squinting and shaking my head hard, but I don’t see how that will help. Morris’s “What have I done?”, “Bring Him Home” and ̶

posted by Anonymous on October 1, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Bought it used – thank God!

    “Les Miserables” is a marvelous musical a stunningly faithful interpretation of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, with an inspiring storyline and unforgettable characters. There are 4 major full-length English versions available (Original London Cast, Original Broadway Cast, Complete Symphonic Recording, and Tenth Anniversary Concert). The truth is, that if you were marooned on that proverbial desert island, any of them would be better than none, but we normally have the luxury of choice. There are 2 reasons for buying a Les Mis CD – (1) you’ve seen a performance and want ONE CD to remind you of it or (2) you’ve become a les Mis junkie (like me) and want multiple versions so you too can hold forth on the rival merits of Andy Warlow vs Michael Maguire, Patty LuPone vs Ruthie Henshaw, Frances Ruffelle vs Kaho Shimada vs Lea Solonga. If you are in the first category, you really want the Tenth Anniversary Concert. The TAC has the complete storyline (albeit slightly abridged), it was recorded live (so there’s an unique intensity and chemistry between performers), and from top to bottom it has by far the best cast. However, if you’re a serious Les Mis fan, you should buy this CD (in addition), simply because it does have the complete score. (The trouble with THAT is that it includes practically the only misstep in the whole script – if Jean Valjean has his number branded on his chest, then how is it credible that someone else will be convicted in his place?) I bought it for that reason and to hear other interpretations of the roles (in particular Andy Warlow’s). I have all 4 versions, and they have all have their pluses and minuses, but frankly, I’m glad I didn’t pay full price for this one. This version has a rather weak cast in general, but that does add to the fun arguing about it. On the plus side, it has Philip Quast ( THE BEST Javert, but he’s even better on the TAC), Michael Ball (THE BEST Marius, also on the OLC and TAC versions), and Andy Warlow (a stirring Enjorlas for sure, but not THAT much better than Michael Maguire on the OBC and TAC). The scenes at the barricade are the best part of the CD. Kaho Shimada is an uneven Eponine, OK sometimes, less so at others. Debbie Byrne (Fantine) is OK, but I don’t find her as moving as Patty LuPone (OLC) or Ruthie Henshaw (TAC). Tracy Shayne (Cosette) is irratating, not nearly as sweet as Judy Kuhn (OLB and TAC) or Rebecca Caine (OLC). I find Barry James and especially Gay Soper (M. and Mme. Thenardier) grating as well. I really miss Colm Wilkinson (OLC, OBC and TAC). OK, he has a unique singing style, but such heart. Not always perfect, but so powerful and emotional. All his solos and “Confrontation” just stop me dead in my tracks. The sweetness and purity of his “Bring Him Home” and “Epilogue” move me to tears. But really, there must be someone else who can do at least an adequate job or the show wouldn’t have run so long in so many venues. I am willing to listen to another interpretation, but not this one. This is the central role in the play, it really can’t survive without a good performance here. Gary Morris is horrible as Jean Valjean, cringe-provoking at times, merely weak at others. It’s not really his voice, it’s his acting (or lack thereof). Instead of powerful and tragic, he sounds petulant and whiney. He’s totally overmatched by Quast in “Confrontation” and by everyone in “One Day More” and “Epilogue”. I haven’t tried the recommendation of one reviewer of listening while squinting and shaking my head hard, but I don’t see how that will help. Morris’s “What have I done?”, “Bring Him Home” and &#822

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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