Search - Christoph Willibald Gluck, Mireille Delunsch, Charles Workman :: Gluck - Armide / Delunsch, Workman, Naouri, Podles, Beuron, Polegato, Kozená, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Minkowski

Gluck - Armide / Delunsch, Workman, Naouri, Podles, Beuron, Polegato, Kozená, Les Musiciens du Louvre,  Minkowski
Christoph Willibald Gluck, Mireille Delunsch, Charles Workman
Gluck - Armide / Delunsch, Workman, Naouri, Podles, Beuron, Polegato, Kozená, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Minkowski
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (41) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (26) - Disc #2


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Izolda | North Haven, CT United States | 03/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is MY second Gluck's opera (after the French "Orphee et Euridice") and this set was a revelation to me. Minkowski, whose conducting was a major snag in his recording of Handel's "Ariodante", here appears to me as a real star of this magical show. It was a fascinating experience to me, a great Berlioz admirer, to finally find out why he was so fond of Gluck and to see how much Gluck's influence there is in Berlioz's music, especially in his early cantatas. Maybe it is Mireille Delunsch's wonderful voice which I know from a recording of Berlioz's cantata "Herminie" (with Herreweghe) that brings these comparisons to my mind. But it is first of all Minkowski's conducting, so colorfull and exciting that gives a "Berliozian" touch to this music. And what music it is! Throughout the set the singing is consistently delightful, with clear French pronuciation (from mostly native speakers). Mireille Delunsch as Armida is splendid and - contrary to what Stanley Sadie from "Gramophone" had to say about her performance (review in June 1999 p. 113) - she does make much use of her words as well as her impressive voice. As I said, I am a newcomer to Gluck and I have a long way to go before I can say that I know something about his operas, but this set certainly contaminated me with a "Gluckian" virus which I will not try to cure. And there is more Gluck to come from Minkowski..."
A lovely revelation
Stephen Hannaford | Near Philadelphia, USA | 09/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"On first listening, Gluck seems awfully insubstantial. Part of the problem is the composer's style. Without da capo arias like Handel operas, there is little opportunity for that probing self-examination that some recent great recorings (like Minkowski's own Ariodante) have brought out. And while tuneful, the music suffers by comparsion with Mozart who knew how to make the most of every melody with fully realized songs. Armide with its arias that slip frictionlessly into recetatives, duets, and trios is harder to grasp. But repeated listening brings out the beauties, more like hothouse orchids than the sturdy blooms of Handel or Mozart, Give Minkowski immense credit for making this music so enjoyable and rewarding; in lesser hands it would be simply dull. As far as the singers are concerned, they are lovely and clear, and the estimable Ewa Podles contributes a lot of power in the cameo of La Haine. My one complaint, is a lack of raw passion at some crucial moments, especially from Armide herself. The soprano, Mirielle Delunsch, never really shows the wilder emotions appropriate to the character. On the other hand, her impeccable rendering of such songs as the tender aria, "Ah! Si La LIberte Me Doit Etre Ravie" had me replaying that track over and over. One note: the fourth act, which seems to be an excuse for ballets and lacks the two principals, is a bit of a bore."
Excellent performance of a neglected masterpiece
madamemusico | Cincinnati, Ohio USA | 07/22/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Having long admired Gluck, the one opera that was missing from my collection was "Armide," but I was not certain if this recording would bring out the dramatic side of his music. (So many modern, "historically-informed" performances of his music don't.) Upon listening, however, I felt that although the singers presented herein are mostly smaller-scale Handelians and Mozartians, they do indeed bring out some of the flavor of this fascinating work.

Unlike Gluck's "Alceste" or "Iphigenie en Tauride," "Armide" is less stark, less strophic, more melodic. One might almost describe it as "radical Mozart." Gluck seemed to be purposely striving here for an opera that was both inherently (which is to say, musically) dramatic and yet tuneful. The result is a delightful work in which recitatives, arias, ensembles and choruses slip seamlessly one into the other, much like the works of his Italian successor, Spontini.

Mark Minkowski drives this performance with incredible intensity from first note to last, and his singers are for the most part able and up to the task. Mirielle Delunsch and Charles Workman were particularly delightful, though the female supporting singers were likewise superb. Their voices are not only pretty and well-supported, but they understand the French style and have the characteristic "French vibrato" which adds to the color of the work. I was particularly struck by Renaud's lyrical, entrancing aria by the side of the stream, with its sparse yet piquant orchestration.

In 1909 Toscanini revived this opera at the Met with Olive Fremstad and Enrico Caruso, two singers known for having cannon-sized voices. I wonder how good it really was, though of course Fremstad was a real artist and capable of almost anything. Nevertheless, the opera did poorly at the box office, not because audiences thought it was tuneless but because it didn't have any held high notes for either principal. A pity; they definitely missed the point of this opera. Nevertheless, I only give this recording four stars instead of five because I would have liked a more dramatic and fully-delineated character out of Delunsch, and because some of the male supporting singers range from just acceptable to dreadful."