This imaginative staging of Berlioz's dramatic symphony for chorus, soloists and orchestra relies heavily on the moving of massed choirs across a large stage. It has vivid lighting effects–rather too many of them using strobes–and monolithic multi-purpose sets, in particular a revolving glass drum which functions both as cinema screen and rostrum for singers, so that the final ride to Hell, for example, is sung by Mephistopheles and Faust above a cavalcade of projected horses, like the inside of a zoetrope. The three main soloists have voices on a scale that can compete with these flashy production values–White and Kasarova, in particular, sing at a level of intensity that would swamp anything less; the climactic seduction trio has rarely been sung so well or with such an overpoweringly polymorphous eroticism. Cambreling marshals his forces effectively, giving full rein to the work's showstoppers like the "Hungarian March" but not neglecting the subtler less kinetic Gluckian side of Berlioz's vocal writing. (Roz Kaveney)
Syrie, 1167. Les années ont passé. Mélisende a un premier fils, Tristan, d'un chevalier chrétien, mort dans une embuscade. Puis un second, An-Nour, d'un prince musulman ami de Saladin, dont elle deviendra la confidente. …
Berlioz was the first Romantic master of the orchestra. His music hasn't been surpassed in terms of sheer brilliance and accuracy of effect. This set includes all of the overtures, the Symphonie fantastique, Harold in Italy, the Royal Hunt and Storm from Les Troyens, orchestral music from The Damnation of Faust and Romeo and Juliet, and the completely insane Grande Symphonie funebre et triumphale. Davis achieved his reputation as a conductor as a Berlioz specialist, and he proves an expert advocate on behalf of this stimulating, bizarre, and totally original genius.
It would not, perhaps, be too much of a stretch to think of Marc-Antoine Charpentier as a sort of late 17th century Poulenc. Poulenc is known for two distinct artistic faces, one a comedian of the zaniest sort, and the other capable of expressing the most profound emotional depth. Charpentier's work lay in almost complete obscurity for nearly two centuries when in the late 20 century it began being brought to light, revealing one of the most fertile and inventive musical minds of the Baroque. He has been known almost exclusively for his religious music, and particularly for his gift for expressing the darkest grief.
In this new release, Vincent Dumestre’s Le Poème Harmonique once again immerses us in the France of the second half of the 16th century, which witnessed the emergence of new centres of artistic activity. These ‘bourgeois’ societies were initiated by patron princes concerned with building their prestige through the arts and letters just as much as by arms. At the same time, refined circles held by cultivated women enabled them to rub shoulders with the leading poets of the time, as well as musicians sensitive to humanist research, all profiting from a context propitious to the invention of new artistic forms and practices.
The eighteenth century is probably the most extraordinary period of transformation Europe has known since antiquity. Political upheavals kept pace with the innumerable inventions and discoveries of the age; every sector of the arts and of intellectual and material life was turned upside down. Between the end of the reign of Louis XIV and the revolution of 1789, music in its turn underwent a radical mutation that struck at the very heart of a well-established musical language. In this domain too, we are all children of the Age of Enlightenment: our conception of music and the way we ‘consume’ it still follows in many respects the agenda set by the eighteenth century. And it is not entirely by chance that harmonia mundi has chosen to offer you in 2011 a survey of this musical revolution which, without claiming to be exhaustive, will enable you to grasp the principal outlines of musical creation between the twilight of the Baroque and the dawn of Romanticism.