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Berlioz: Benvenuto Cellini
     

Berlioz: Benvenuto Cellini

by Colin Davis
 
Colin Davis has been a strong advocate of Berlioz's, and was largely responsible for the 1960s revival of interest in the composer's work, much of which had been virtually unknown to modern audiences. Davis' Berlioz performances on Philips were classics, and he made the first recording of "Benvenuto Cellini" in 1972, with a stellar cast that

Overview

Colin Davis has been a strong advocate of Berlioz's, and was largely responsible for the 1960s revival of interest in the composer's work, much of which had been virtually unknown to modern audiences. Davis' Berlioz performances on Philips were classics, and he made the first recording of "Benvenuto Cellini" in 1972, with a stellar cast that included Nicolai Gedda in the title role, along with Christiane Eda-Pierre, Jules Bastin, Jane Berbié, Roger Soyer, and Hugues Cuénod. It's unfortunate that this version, recorded live with the London Symphony Orchestra, which reflects Davis' lifetime of familiarity with the opera and is probably his final commercial recording of it, doesn't have a more compelling cast. While the principals adequately manage, there is a sense that the singers aren't fully at ease, not enough to make the opera's considerable humor sound genuinely funny and fun to sing. (They must be fine actors, though, because there is considerable audience laughter during the spoken sections.) Laura Claycomb sings Teresa on both this set and on Haenssler's 2003 version, conducted by Roger Norrington, but she sounds less fresh here. Perhaps it's a vagary of the miking, but her sibilants are often muted to the point that it sounds like she has a lisp, a phenomenon that wasn't evident on her earlier recording of the role. As Cellini, Gregory Kunde's voice is perhaps too light for the part, and his vibrato is sometimes wide. (He takes the passage with the role's infamous D flat in falsetto.) Peter Coleman-Wright is powerful as Fieramosca, but the remaining cast members fail to make strong positive impressions. The members of the London Symphony Chorus have trouble keeping the ensemble articulations clean, which is understandably tricky with music at these fleet tempos, but they are sometime surprisingly wide of the mark. The orchestra plays with all the nimbleness and playfulness the score requires, and Davis masterfully keeps the score's humor moving with agility and wit. The SACD has good separation, but the fact that none of the singing sounds particularly attractive may be as much an engineering as a vocal problem.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times - Anthony Tommasini
Mr. Davis has long been just about the most astute and exciting Berlioz conductor around. Perhaps his British reticence, touched with a streak of wildness, is an ideal match for Berlioz’s French refinement, touched by dips into musical madness. In any event, Berlioz considered “Benvenuto Cellini” one of his most original scores, and that ingenuity is conveyed thrillingly in the breathless yet commanding performance Mr. Davis draws from the excellent orchestra and chorus and the winning cast.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/10/2008
Label:
Lso Live Uk
UPC:
0822231162322
catalogNumber:
623
Rank:
277894

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Benvenuto Cellini, opera, H. 76a, Op. 23

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