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Thread: The 2015 TC most recommended opera CD's and DVD thread...........

  1. #1486
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    I'm not sure there is a completely recommendable recording of Faust, and I have to admit I find Christoff's execrable French and heavy, humourless characterisation of Mephitopheles hard to take . However this Cluytens version is still my favourite, mainly due to the contributions of Gedda and De Los Angeles.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Itullian View Post
    Of course, Vicky for me.....................



    For CD - Yes Vicky and Gedda back together again (Carmen, Tales of Hoffman) at a small café table on the left bank, Itullian wishes he was the "American in Paris"

    For Video - Pappano ROH, great cast with HD widescreen picture, wish Gheorghiu had more videos, need to see more of the new Kauffman/Poplavskaya video but there are grumblings about its modern production (MET's Gelb doing his thing)......

    Last edited by DarkAngel; Jun-28-2015 at 19:26.

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  4. #1488
    Senior Member Albert7's Avatar
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    CD version (on iTunes too woooooooooooooohooooooooooooooooooo)



    DVD version easily by a landslide:

    "if a horse could sing in a monotone, the horse would sound like Carly Simon, only a horse wouldn't rhyme 'yacht', 'apricot', and 'gavotte'. Is that some kind of joke?"
    --Robert Christgau
    "there's a fine line between having an open mind and having your whole brain fall out"
    --Anonymous

    アルバート セブン

  5. #1489
    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post


    I'm not sure there is a completely recommendable recording of Faust, and I have to admit I find Christoff's execrable French and heavy, humourless characterisation of Mephitopheles hard to take . However this Cluytens version is still my favourite, mainly due to the contributions of Gedda and De Los Angeles.
    Gosh, I love his menacing portrayal, but then I'm a Christoff fan and not a French connoisseur.
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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    Senior Member sospiro's Avatar
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    CD

    Got this one because of Ramey and it's now my favourite.



    DVD

    Ann

  7. #1491
    Senior Member Diminuendo's Avatar
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    1949 Faust just for Di Stefano . I just couldn't pick any other http://www.amazon.com/Gounod-Decembe.../dp/B000F6H4T4
    "First I sing loud. When I start to run out of breath I sing softer" Giuseppe Di Stefano on his Faust high c diminuendo

  8. #1492
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    The best all round is probably Plasson but I have a great affection for the gorgeous singing of Sutherland and Corelli on the Decca set. However, the language they are singing in remains a bit of a mystery!

    But my vote goes for Plasson of you prefer French!

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  10. #1493
    Senior Member Headphone Hermit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post


    I'm not sure there is a completely recommendable recording of Faust, and I have to admit I find Christoff's execrable French and heavy, humourless characterisation of Mephitopheles hard to take . However this Cluytens version is still my favourite, mainly due to the contributions of Gedda and De Los Angeles.
    Victoria de los Angeles, Nicolai Gedda and Andre Cluytens for me too, please. VDLA is a treasure of a Margueritte (I also have a set from a live performance with Richard Tucker where she illuminates the role and shines through the dodgy recording technology, but this EMI set is by far my favourite)
    "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils." Berlioz, 1856

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  12. #1494
    Senior Member Figleaf's Avatar
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    CD: I vote for this 1912 recording conducted by François Ruhlmann , with the following cast:

    Faust Léon Beyle
    Méphistophélès André Gresse
    Valentin Jean Noté
    Wagner Pierre Dupré
    Marguerite Jeanne Campredon
    Siebel Marguerite d’Elty
    Marthe Jeanne Goulancourt

    This is probably the best all round Faust, and among the most authentic. It's especially notable for the beautiful singing of the Act 3 love duet, acoustic recordings of which are usually heavily cut and often rushed as well. Jeanne Campredon rises to greatness in this scene, which has a similar style and flavour to the benchmark recording of the (heavily cut) duet by Scaramberg and Brejean-Silver. Faust and Mephistopheles are good, but, frustratingly, could have been cast with even better singers at that time- a fact amply demonstrated by Marston's generous selection of contemporary bonus tracks featuring Affre, Belhomme, Nivette, Delmas, Albers and Muratore. Beyle, while idiomatic and a good actor, is not the greatest French tenor voice of that era- perhaps the best portrayal of Faust himself on a complete recording is César Vezzani on the 1930 recording conducted by Henri Büsser, though the Mephistopheles, Marcel Journet's, voice had declined somewhat and his style coarsened. The 1912 Mephistopheles, André Gresse, has an attractive, distinguished sounding voice with enough weight to sing an exciting 'Veau d'or', though he is not really a brilliant actor and does not quite have the suavity or charm of the lovely Robert Easton on the 1929-30 Beecham recording, which would be my second choice. Pierre Dupré, in the tiny role of Wagner, reminds us how many great basses France had at that time. The high point of the 1912, however, is the great Jean Noté as a sexy, macho Valentin: if only this was a more substantial role!



    DVD: I vote for this 1975 performance conducted by Charles Mackerras. It's all on YouTube:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=a4JjoDcaJGw

    The cast is as follows:

    Faust - Nicolai Gedda
    Marguerite - Mirella Freni
    Mephistopheles - Roger Soyer
    Valentin - Tom Krause
    Wagner - Jean-Louis Soumagnas
    Siebel - Renée Auphan
    Dame Marthe - Jocelyne Taillon
    Angel - Catherine Bresson

    The delectable Roger Soyer, the last great French bass, is suitably urbane and magnetic as Mephistopheles, and the Wagner is another very good bass who is otherwise unknown to me. What a fine figure of a man Roger Soyer was too, and handsome: I wonder if the tenor was displeased by Mephistopheles' and Faust's matching 'his 'n' his' costumes, in which the bass looks so much more dashing! Less successful than Soyer are the two lovers: Gedda is a vocally adequate but bland Faust, and Freni's French vowels are strange sounding and ugly. (She covers so much that her vowels are probably somewhat impure in any language.) The Siebel is a better singer than her Marguerite: it's a shame that the powers that be decided to draft in foreign singers when France still had plenty who were better suited to this music, and indeed better generally. The DVD is still highly recommendable for Soyer's fine singing and elegant presence.

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  14. #1495
    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    ^
    1912!!!!!!!
    Moly Holy!!!!!
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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    Senior Member Figleaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Itullian View Post
    ^
    1912!!!!!!!
    Moly Holy!!!!!
    Well it's 19th century French music, so it's not surprising if French-speaking singers who began their careers in the 19th century such as Noté (1859-1922) and Gresse (1868-1937) sing it better than later international singers who were not part of that cultural milieu or that vocal tradition. Similarly, the operatic recordings with French casts during the period of slow decline that lasted from the great war to the 70s are still often, though not always, missing something compared with the singers of Noté's generation and earlier: a certain individuality, vigour, expressiveness, and very often vocal glamour as well. A good example of this decline of French singing is Beecham's French language Faust from the 1940s featuring Géori Boué and Georges Noré: the singers are French and tasteful and idiomatic and their diction is excellent, but all are small voiced, none is especially moving dramatically, and the performance as a whole, while perfectly pleasant, fails to come to life. That Beecham performance recalls John Steane's dismissal of French music as 'delicately, tastefully boring': Steane must have listened to too many performances from the 1940s and later, and not enough from 1912 and before!

    I just bought the 1908 recording too, but that's in German.
    Last edited by Figleaf; Jun-29-2015 at 00:51.

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  18. #1497
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    CD choice : Sutherland / Bonynge



    DVD choice :Yannick Nézet-Séguin




  19. #1498
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Figleaf View Post


    CD: I vote for this 1912 recording conducted by François Ruhlmann , with the following cast:

    Faust Léon Beyle
    Méphistophélès André Gresse
    Valentin Jean Noté
    Wagner Pierre Dupré
    Marguerite Jeanne Campredon
    Siebel Marguerite d’Elty
    Marthe Jeanne Goulancourt

    This is probably the best all round Faust, and among the most authentic. It's especially notable for the beautiful singing of the Act 3 love duet, acoustic recordings of which are usually heavily cut and often rushed as well. Jeanne Campredon rises to greatness in this scene, which has a similar style and flavour to the benchmark recording of the (heavily cut) duet by Scaramberg and Brejean-Silver. Faust and Mephistopheles are good, but, frustratingly, could have been cast with even better singers at that time- a fact amply demonstrated by Marston's generous selection of contemporary bonus tracks featuring Affre, Belhomme, Nivette, Delmas, Albers and Muratore. Beyle, while idiomatic and a good actor, is not the greatest French tenor voice of that era- perhaps the best portrayal of Faust himself on a complete recording is César Vezzani on the 1930 recording conducted by Henri Büsser, though the Mephistopheles, Marcel Journet's, voice had declined somewhat and his style coarsened. The 1912 Mephistopheles, André Gresse, has an attractive, distinguished sounding voice with enough weight to sing an exciting 'Veau d'or', though he is not really a brilliant actor and does not quite have the suavity or charm of the lovely Robert Easton on the 1929-30 Beecham recording, which would be my second choice. Pierre Dupré, in the tiny role of Wagner, reminds us how many great basses France had at that time. The high point of the 1912, however, is the great Jean Noté as a sexy, macho Valentin: if only this was a more substantial role!




    I just wonder whether we are supposed to take recording quality into consideration too. A 1912 recording would seem fine for connoisseurs but for a general recommendation?

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    I don't take this as a competition for "best," and nothing rests on which recordings come out ahead in the voting. We're just saying what performances we like and think would be worthwhile for others to hear, and learning about what our fellow TCers prefer. It's educational, and I'm grateful that there's someone here who can point out recordings most of us wouldn't be aware of. If we know we wouldn't enjoy old recordings because of their technical limitations, that's OK too. Everyone has different requirements there, but if there are outstanding performances from before the age of high fidelity, some of us will be glad to know. Many people feel that the Fausts on modern recordings all have significant faults of style. I'd like to hear some of the pre-LP ones.

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  23. #1500
    Senior Member Figleaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    I just wonder whether we are supposed to take recording quality into consideration too. A 1912 recording would seem fine for connoisseurs but for a general recommendation?
    The sound quality on the 1912 recording is below average for its time, because all Pathé discs are dubbings from a master cylinder and thus one more generation removed from the master than other companies' discs. (Many of the bonus tracks show the excellent sound that could be achieved on acoustic recordings- it was hit and miss in those days.) Additionally, some of the copies used for these transfers (the masters have not survived) are in imperfect condition, so have more background thuds than most records transferred to CD: this is because the near-prohibitive cost and size of a complete opera recording in those days, plus the fact that Pathé discs weren't playable on conventional gramophones, means that the original discs are very rare. This CD will never be the audiophile pick, and one wishes the sound were better, but then it's not by any means intolerably bad if one is accustomed to acoustic recordings, or wishes to become accustomed to them in order to hear the great singing that can sometimes emerge from their ancient grooves!

    Other people can suggest an audiophile choice if they want to. I think that the joy of this thread is that everyone is familiar with different recordings and has their own criteria for arriving at a top recommendation. I've chosen the quality of the singing (with authenticity of style a valuable part of that) as my main criterion, and I usually start with the earliest recordings available and work forwards in time. As far as Faust is concerned, Dutton Laboratories' remastering of Beecham's 1929-30 English language recording is in surprisingly excellent sound and shouldn't disappoint anyone who is happy with mono.

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