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Posted October 1, 2010
Everything about this two-CD set is just plain fantastic. Sorry for the gushing adjectives (don't want to sound too much like Rex Reed), but I can hardly contain my enthusiasm. Billed as a ''Dramatic Legend in Four Parts,'' this imaginative, orchestrally inventive oratorio (actually, Berlioz variously spoke of it as an ''operatorio'' and a ''concert opera'') was a setting of Gérard de Nerval's French translation of Goethe's *Faust,* which Berlioz ''could not put down.'' I cannot turn off the CD player after starting it! For one thing, Bryn Terfel's Méphistopheles is a revelation for those unfamiliar with the Welsh baritone: sublimely seductive when need be, sinister and evil if that is called for as well. The others in the cast are almost equally in top form, but in the final analysis it is Myung-Whun Chung's handling of the Philharmonia; Ralph Allwood's leading of the Eton College boys' Choir, and the David Hill-Simon Halsey co-mastery of the Philharmonia Chorus which deserve the highest praise. This work -- call it dramatic legend, oratorio, whatever -- laid the ground work for such musical theatre as *Les Miserables* in sweeping choral voices interspersed with fine duo, trio, and quartet solos and lovely arias. I think I've already worn my copy out!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.