Impassioned and authentic
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 02/01/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you take a glance at my review of the woeful Davis/LSO Live version of this wonderful work, you will see that, like the Santa Fe listener, I put this set near the top of the list of recommendations. Unlike him, I do not rate the Chung recording; for me, there is no better account than Solti's riotous 1981 set, with an infinitely touching Von Stade almost as good as Janet Baker here in the Pretre recording, and Van Dam in incomparable form - much better than his later assumption, when the voice had started to dry out - as a subtle, insinuating demon. I almost always have reservations about Nicolai Gedda's slightly bleaty tone, but he is fully up to the demands of the eponymous rôle, and while Bacquier is not quite so elegant and vocally impressive as Van Dam, he characterises marvellously. Add to that the authentic Gallic idiom provided by Pretre and French forces, and you have a winner. This set is made even more desirable by the inclusion of Janet Baker's astounding account of "La Mort de Cléopâtre" - one of her finest performances ever on disc and you have an irresisitible package at a bargain price. Having said that, another excellent alternative version, especially if French authenticity is your priority, is the wonderful Markevitch set (see my review)."
Ailsaellen | Palo Alto, CA USA | 05/02/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Damnation of Faust" by Berlioz is the most wonderful music and this cast is superb. "Damnation" is not an opera but rather a symphonic piece of music with many wonderful operatic scene and arias. This music is usually performed in a symphony concert format, but recently had an excellent stage production at the Metropolitan Opera.
If you are not familiar with this music you are in for a treat! If you are familiar with Marguarite's famous aria "D'amour l'ardente flamme" you will love Janet Baker's singing. She has a sweet, true mezzo voice but without the deep passion and complexity of a mezzo such as Olga Borodina.
I have become addicted to this recording and usually listen to it every day!"