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Thread: Berlioz operas on disc - Les Troyens

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    Senior Member Headphone Hermit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Figleaf View Post
    I had suspected that sound quality and orchestral performance- things I am more or less deaf to- were most of the reason why the Davis sets were the usual top recommendation. Personally, I found that nine minutes of the love duet sung by Vickers and Veasey felt longer than 3 hours and 40 minutes of the 'complete' opera as performed by Beecham and his French cast, and listening to it, I felt that I understood Itullian's accusation of extreme dullness (I don't know whether he has heard the Beecham or not). In any case, the fact that my preferred version is available free on Youtube means that for practical purposes it isn't really in 'competition' with the Davis recordings, at least as far as anmhe's budget is concerned.
    Each to their own, Figleaf (and I have acknowledged recently that the 'frenchness' of the singing is a real treat in the Beecham version), but when I hear the opinions of those who know the opera and the different versions well, the main reason why Davis comes out top is because of his musicality ... and choices between the Davis versions then centres on performance and sound quality. Persoanlly, I find the interaction betwen Vickers and Veasey in Nuit d'Ivresse to be absolutley magnificent - both as a duet and within the context of the entire opera. Perhaps it is a matter of taste which version of this duet is prefered (and there are a number of attempts at this duet available without the singers building to it through a performance of the entitre opera) but I find it to be really important in this piece to understand the duet within the context of the development (and then disintegration) of the Dido-Aeneas relationship .... and for me, this is best played out by Vickers and Veasey in the recordings that we have available.

    The debt that lovers of Berlioz' music owe to the tenacity and dedication of Davis is enormous
    "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils." Berlioz, 1856

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    Senior Member Figleaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Headphone Hermit View Post
    Each to their own, Figleaf (and I have acknowledged recently that the 'frenchness' of the singing is a real treat in the Beecham version), but when I hear the opinions of those who know the opera and the different versions well, the main reason why Davis comes out top is because of his musicality ... and choices between the Davis versions then centres on performance and sound quality. Persoanlly, I find the interaction betwen Vickers and Veasey in Nuit d'Ivresse to be absolutley magnificent - both as a duet and within the context of the entire opera. Perhaps it is a matter of taste which version of this duet is prefered (and there are a number of attempts at this duet available without the singers building to it through a performance of the entitre opera) but I find it to be really important in this piece to understand the duet within the context of the development (and then disintegration) of the Dido-Aeneas relationship .... and for me, this is best played out by Vickers and Veasey in the recordings that we have available.

    The debt that lovers of Berlioz' music owe to the tenacity and dedication of Davis is enormous
    There's usually some kind of trade-off when comparing complete recordings, and the particular trade-offs we are happy to make depend on our own individual priorities. As you know, I'm a lover of French singing, and not at all knowledgeable about music as music. For that reason I'm hesitant to argue about which conductor possesses greater 'musicality' because this is a matter entirely beyond my limited knowledge of opera. I do, however, find Jon Vickers' voice so harshly unpleasant and his interpretations so lacking in any kind of charm that listening to an entire opera with him in a major role would feel like a punishment. In contrast, Jean Giraudeau has a pleasant, warm timbre even if he doesn't sound heroic. Left to his own devices, Giraudeau doesn't seem to have been an especially charismatic singer either (and I won't deny he made some very iffy records- 'Ecco ridente', yikes!), but under Beecham he is able to create a modest kind of magic, and the rest of the cast is very strong too.
    Last edited by Figleaf; Mar-16-2015 at 13:27.

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    Senior Member Sonata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Figleaf View Post
    There's usually some kind of trade-off when comparing complete recordings, and the particular trade-offs we are happy to make depend on our own individual priorities. As you know, I'm a lover of French singing, and not at all knowledgeable about music as music. For that reason I'm hesitant to argue about which conductor possesses greater 'musicality' because this is a matter entirely beyond my limited knowledge of opera. I do, however, find Jon Vickers' voice so harshly unpleasant and his interpretations so lacking in any kind of charm that listening to an entire opera with him in a major role would feel like a punishment. In contrast, Jean Giraudeau has a pleasant, warm timbre even if he doesn't sound heroic. Left to his own devices, Giraudeau doesn't seem to have been an especially charismatic singer either (and I won't deny he made some very iffy records- 'Ecco ridente', yikes!), but under Beecham he is able to create a modest kind of magic, and the rest of the cast is very strong too.
    I own the Davis and LSO recording (haven't listened to the opera yet though) however figleaf you've given me a strong enough case to try out the Beecham as well!
    Sonata's iPod Heavy rotation:

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    Senior Member Marschallin Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Figleaf View Post
    There's usually some kind of trade-off when comparing complete recordings, and the particular trade-offs we are happy to make depend on our own individual priorities. As you know, I'm a lover of French singing, and not at all knowledgeable about music as music. For that reason I'm hesitant to argue about which conductor possesses greater 'musicality' because this is a matter entirely beyond my limited knowledge of opera. I do, however, find Jon Vickers' voice so harshly unpleasant and his interpretations so lacking in any kind of charm that listening to an entire opera with him in a major role would feel like a punishment. In contrast, Jean Giraudeau has a pleasant, warm timbre even if he doesn't sound heroic. Left to his own devices, Giraudeau doesn't seem to have been an especially charismatic singer either (and I won't deny he made some very iffy records- 'Ecco ridente', yikes!), but under Beecham he is able to create a modest kind of magic, and the rest of the cast is very strong too.
    To each her or his own, certainly- but I love Vickers, myself. He's ideal for the role in every way. Les Troyens is based on Virgil's Aeneid- itself brimming with virility and heroism. In fact, the first line of the Aeneid is, "I sing of war and of man at war"- nothing caressingly effeminate about that.

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    Senior Member Figleaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marschallin Blair View Post
    To each her or his own, certainly- but I love Vickers, myself. He's ideal for the role in every way. Les Troyens is based on Virgil's Aeneid- itself brimming with virility and heroism. In fact, the first line of the Aeneid is, "I sing of war and of man at war"- nothing caressingly effeminate about that.
    Indeed. If only there was a recording with an Enee who both sounded heroic and had an agreeable timbre. Vickers is unlistenable for me, although I don't think Giraudeau is unduly effeminate for the possessor of such a light voice. You could make an argument from Virgil that Aeneas, being merely an instrument of fate, lacks the agency necessary to be a true hero, but I doubt that would have much relevance to the opera.

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    Senior Member Marschallin Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Figleaf View Post
    Indeed. If only there was a recording with an Enee who both sounded heroic and had an agreeable timbre. Vickers is unlistenable for me, although I don't think Giraudeau is unduly effeminate for the possessor of such a light voice. You could make an argument from Virgil that Aeneas, being merely an instrument of fate, lacks the agency necessary to be a true hero, but I doubt that would have much relevance to the opera.
    Well, in all honesty, for all of Virgil's virtues as a poet, he was still the neoconservative propagandist of the Roman state for his time- so yeah, he's going to have this take in the Aeneid (not unlike Hegel and Marx in this respect) that everything (including Imperialist aggression) is 'fated' and 'must be'- for the Spirit of History (Hegel's Geist) and the Laws of History (Marx's Dialectical Materialism), so decree it.

    - Only the poets of Virgil's day called it 'fate.'
    Last edited by Marschallin Blair; Mar-16-2015 at 14:56.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    I'd rather listen to Guillaume Tell 5 times straight than Troyens once.
    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 Marschallin Blair View Post
    Well, in all honesty, for all of Virgil's virtues as a poet, he was still the neoconservative propagandist of the Roman state for his time- so yeah, he's going to have this take in the Aeneid (not unlike Hegel and Marx in this respect) that everything (including Imperialist aggression) is 'fated' and 'must be'- for the Spirit of History (Hegel's Geist) and the Laws of History (Marx's Dialectical Materialism), so decree it.

    - Only the poets of Virgil's day called it 'fate.'
    Imperium sine fine... a familiar concept to Americans. For now, at least.

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    Senior Member Sonata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Itullian View Post
    I'd rather listen to Guillaume Tell 5 times straight than Troyens once.
    I need to get on and order a copy of that one.
    Sonata's iPod Heavy rotation:

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    Senior Member Marschallin Blair's Avatar
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    The fierce dramatic choral outpourings of the Act I Trojan horse celebration and Act IV's "Royal Hunt and Storm" are quite possibly the most heroic passages (and simultaneously 'beautiful,' incidentally) that I've heard in all of opera- I would rank them higher than anything out of Gotterdammerung- heroic as the scoring can be in that opera.

    Hands down.



    - for the Act I Trojan horse celebration choruses



    - for the Act IV "Royal Hunt and Storm"

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    Senior Member Marschallin Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Figleaf View Post
    Imperium sine fine... a familiar concept to Americans.
    Quote Originally Posted by Figleaf View Post
    For now, at least.
    . . . and I couldn't be more against it.

    ;D

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    Senior Member Figleaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonata View Post
    I need to get on and order a copy of that one.
    A little off topic perhaps, but I found this nice, if brutally abridged, Tell on Youtube:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVDDD6FAiu4

    I've only listened to about half of it, but it's interesting so far because it has Tony Poncet, the possessor of the last great French heroic tenor voice, as Arnold. It's a shame he wasn't a more finished singer, but the voice is lovely, and perfect in this role. I have the Gardelli Guillaume Tell with Gedda and Bacquier and that's mostly very good as well.
    Last edited by Figleaf; Mar-16-2015 at 16:08. Reason: typo

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Figleaf View Post
    A little off topic perhaps, but I found this nice, if brutally abridged, Tell on Youtube:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVDDD6FAiu4

    I've only listened to about half of it, but it's interesting so far because it has Tony Poncet, the possessor of the last great French heroic tenor voice, as Arnold. It's a shame he wasn't a more finished singer, but the voice is lovely, and perfect in this role. I have the Gardelli Guillaume Tell with Gedda and Bacquier and that's mostly very good as well.
    Thanks, i'm checking that out.
    I love Tell.

    And was listening to the Beecham Troyens on youtube, and while I still don't get that opera, find it more compelling than Davis.

    Sonata..........you MUST get Tell. It's AMAZING!!!!
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marschallin Blair View Post
    Well, in all honesty, for all of Virgil's virtues as a poet, '
    When I was studying Virgil in Latin classes at school I must confess his poetic virtues escaped me! Especially when one had to write the thing out as an imposition!

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    Senior Member Figleaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Itullian View Post
    Thanks, i'm checking that out.
    I love Tell.

    And was listening to the Beecham Troyens on youtube, and while I still don't get that opera, find it more compelling than Davis.

    Sonata..........you MUST get Tell. It's AMAZING!!!!
    YESSS!!! Behold the power of authentic French singing!!! *does victory dance around living room*

    Agreed about the amazingness of Tell.

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