Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Christoph Willibald Gluck, Louis de Froment, Members of the Conservatory Society Concert Orchestra|
Christoph Willibald Gluck: Orphée et Euridice
The 1955 Orphée in French - Gedda, Micheau
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 11/06/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This recording taken from several live performances in Paris in March 1955 gives us Gluck's 1774 (the so-called 'Paris' version) of 'Orphée' in French and with a tenor -- and not just any tenor: Nicolai Gedda -- singing Orphée. I think this is the recording's first appearance on CD. I heard it years ago on LP but never owned it, so I am coming to it fresh. The performance has many pluses, not least the tenor voice of Gedda, never straining in spite of the role's high tessitura, and the noble-voiced Euridice of Janine Micheau (one of my favorite French sopranos of that era) who perhaps sounds a little old for the part but singing beautifully. Amour is sung pertly by Liliane Berton, sounding a lot like Kathleen Battle. The role of the Blessed Spirit is also sung by Micheau.
But there are drawbacks, too. First, the order of the numbers has been rearranged for reasons I'm not clear about. For instance, the Dance of the Furies begins rather than ends the first scene of Act II. Orphée's Act I aria, 'Object de mon amour' is shorn of one of its verses. And what's worse Orphée's showpiece aria, 'L'espoir renait', is cut entirely! Difficult as that aria is, given Gedda's ease in this part I can't understand why the aria was omitted. And, though I hate to say it, it sounds to me like Gedda is not entirely engaged by the part. Yes, his singing is beautiful, but he seems only mildly upset about his wife's fate. The orchestra under Louis de Froment is guilty of occasional patches of poor ensemble, not uncommon, I guess, in live performances. But the orchestra fairly frequent has less than precise attacks. This is accentuated by rather more vibrato than is now customary. Some might appreciate that, I imagine. Also a bit botherseome, Froment's tempi tend to be on the sleepy side.
The 1950s-era sound is reasonably good for its period, if a little boxy, but it has been re-engineered as artificial stereo. I seem to recall that the LP pressings were in genuine mono, for what that's worth.
This is not a first-choice for the Paris 'Orphée'. I'm inclined to give the nod for that honor to the Minkowski set Gluck - Orphée et Eurydice.