Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Giacomo Meyerbeer, Fromental Halevy, Jules Massenet|
Ben Heppner - Airs Francais / LSO, Myung-Whun Chung
Genres: Pop, Classical
Ben Heppner is our leading dramatic tenor, but he's also a skilled recitalist; he triumphed in Colin Davis's concert recording of Berlioz's Les Troyens. His first solo recording for Deutsche Grammophon demonstrates his ski... more »
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Ben Heppner is our leading dramatic tenor, but he's also a skilled recitalist; he triumphed in Colin Davis's concert recording of Berlioz's Les Troyens. His first solo recording for Deutsche Grammophon demonstrates his skill in the French repertory. Almost half the disc is given to Berlioz arias, done with power and stylistic comfort. His artistry differs from the traditional French tenor; the voice is beefier, some of the delicacy is lost. But the tradition ceased to exist by the 1970s, and Heppner compares favorably with anyone on the scene today. His voice is darker than those most often heard in these arias, so while it may surprise at first in "Nature immense," here, as elsewhere, there's a rightness about his singing that's compelling. His "O Souverain" is sensitively done, and the wonderful Halévy aria (the entire scene is given) is done without the verismo disfigurements of Alagna's on his French aria disc for EMI. Myung-Whun Chung's sympathetic conducting makes for a classy partnership. --Dan Davis
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Good, but something missing...
paulleger | Pittsburgh, PA United States | 12/28/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ben Heppner is probably the best heldentenor around, but a great German singer does not a great French singer make. All the notes are there but the headtones are missing. Sometimes, Heppner sounds like he is really pushing it on the high notes. A French tenor would have known to float them rather than belt them out like a good Wagnerite. This is most obvious in the Berlioz and Halevy selections. Things improve a little in Massenet and then they improve a lot in Meyerbeer. That's to be expected because Meyerbeer was a German trying to write Italian opera for Paris, not a real "French" composer. The Massenet selections from LeCid are spectacular, but part of the effect is from the chorus and large orchestra. The London Symphony Orchestra,led by Myung-Whun Chung,is an asset on this disc. It is consistently full and it gives silky support to the singer. The final item is a rousing version of the Berlioz arrangement of "La Marseillaise." Everyone pulls this off well and it makes a great ending for the disc. Maybe somebody could do the same kind of arrangement for the Star Spangled Banner. It would be an impressive alternative to the pop-soul-country versions that seem to be the norm these days."
Fine French Fare
drvox | Nashville, TN | 03/22/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Canadian tenor Ben Heppner is certainly one of the finest singers on the current operatic scene. Despite his tendency to slightly squeeze the voice on top rather than allow it to bloom, he truly has a lovely vocal quality, full of warmth and color, along with a superior musical intelligence with which he has begun to bring a deepening sense of dramatic conviction to his interpretions over the last few years. On this disc, he succeeds greatly in the arias from operas which are within his vocal fach: Les Troyens, La Juive, El Cid, L'Africaine, and Le prophète. In particular, it is joy to hear the ardor and longing in his Enée (his complete traversal of the role with the LSO recently won a Grammy), the world-weariness of his Eléazar without the Italianate sobbing which has become de rigueur, and the victorious triumph of Jean de Leyde. Though Mr. Heppner's sense of lyricism serves him well, the other selections really require a different type of tenor, one whose vocal quality is lighter and more flexible in terms of dynamics and shading. Nonetheless, this is a fine recording, with exciting contributions from both the London Symphony Orchestra and conductor Myung-Whun Chun."
Very nice recital of French arias
drvox | 04/06/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ben Heppner is a great tenor. Contrary to some reports, he is not a heldentenor. He is an unusually large-voiced lyric. His voice is very fine indeed. This recital contains some nice renditions of French arias. A few arias were not that great. He has the pronunciation down pat. I loved the aria from "La Juive". Heppner is perfect for the role of Eléazar. The aria benefits greatly from having the chorus present and the inclusion of the rousing and tuneful cabaletta. The "Le Cid" arias also benefitted from the chorus being present. Some high notes of his are quite unpleasant. One such high note was the high D in the "Benvenuto Cellini" aria. His voice is really not light and high-placed enough for some of the arias he sings. One example is the "Les Huguenots" aria. Nicolai Gedda is perfect for that aria. Anyway, this recital is, on the most part, enjoyable.PS. There is a serious problem in the booklet. Most of the arias have misaligned texts and translations. This makes following the singing very difficult."