All thanks for another pearl to complete the Berlioz-Davis-cycle go to Trottar
Dame Janet Baker and Robert Tear lead an outstanding cast in this classic recording of Berlioz’ operatic setting of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, under the baton of the distinguished Berlioz conductor Sir Colin Davis. Based on Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, the text is by the composer who finished composing the opera in 1862; it was first given its première later that year in Baden-Baden.
Composer: Hector Berlioz
Performer: Thomas Allen, Robert Lloyd, Jules Bastin, John Alldis Choir, Helen Watts, Janet Baker, Christiane Eda-Pierre, Robert Tear, Richard Van Allan
Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Colin Davis
Number of discs: 2
DR-Analysis: DR 15
Size: 2.0 GB
Colin Davis has been a one-man band so far as promoting Beatrice and Benedict is concerned. There is much wonderful music in this comic opera–although precious few laughs–and it is best appreciated as Berlioz per se rather than a version of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. The names of the characters are the same but not much else.
Davis has made three versions across the span of his long career, all currently available and all with the London Symphony. The most recent, on LSO Live, derives from a concert performance that finds Davis feeling somewhat uninvolved, with slack tempos and little vivacity in the singing, either. The soloists are good, middle-of-the-road vocalists who rarely exhibit more than a touch of inspiration.
His first version dates from 1962 and is paired with misc. vocal works on a Decca two-fer. It’s more lively, and the two leads, Josephine Veasey and John Mitchinson, are much better than their ocunterparts on the later recording.
But the real gem is this version on Philips. Everything is more effervescent, and the inclusion of some French dialogue adds to the very Gallic theatrical mood of the opera. In Janet Baker and Robert Tear Davis found two leads who are several notches better than Veasey and Mitchinson, and they make a genuine attempt at vocal acting–the arch disdain between these reluctant ironic lovers is palpable. True, by 1977 neither singer was in freshest voice, but that isn’t a major drawback.
Analyzed folder: /96k Berlioz – Beatrice Et Benedict – Davis
DR Peak RMS Filename
DR13 -0.82 dB -19.35 dB side1.aif
DR16 -1.02 dB -22.00 dB side2.aif
DR16 -0.94 dB -23.40 dB side3.aif
DR14 -0.67 dB -20.29 dB side4.aif
Number of files: 4
Official DR value: DR15
- Baritone Vocals [Claudio] – Thomas Allen
- Bass Vocals [Don Pedro] – Robert Lloyd
- Bass Vocals [Somarone] – Jules Bastin
- Choir – John Alldis Choir
- Chorus Master – John Alldis
- Composed By, Libretto By [After Shakespeare] – Hector Berlioz
- Conductor – Colin Davis
- Contralto Vocals [Ursule] – Helen Watts
- Mezzo-soprano Vocals [Béatrice] – Janet Baker
- Orchestra – London Symphony Orchestra
- Soprano Vocals [Héro] – Christiane Eda-Pierre
- Tenor Vocals [Bénédict] – Robert Tear
- Vocals [Speaking Role, Léonato] – Richard Van Allan
- RCM: Okki Nokki (L’art du son, Clearaudio’s Diamond Cleaner)
- TT: Vintage (1982) Yamaha PX-3
- Cartridge: Sumiko Black Bird
Cartridge: ZYX 50R Bloom
- Phono amp: Audio Research SP15 own tube phono section
- ADC/DAC: RME Fireface UC
- Pre Amp: Audio Research SP15
- Finals: Opera Consonance 9.9 Mono (Tube)
- Speakers: Dali Helikon 400
- Connections: MIT Terminator, Audioquest Emerald, Audioquest Quartz
- Software: iZotope RX 4 Advanced, Adobe Audition CS 5.5, Twisted Wave 1.9
- Super light de-clicking with iZotope, significant clicks manually removing, no de-noising
- DR-Analisys before converting to Flac
- Converting Wave -> Flac: Twisted Wave 1.9
- Artwork: Sony Alpha 350, Epson Perfection V750 Pro, Photoshop CS 5.5
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