All thanks for this gem go to our friend Trottar
Sir Colin Davis is the reason for the way we look at the music of Hector Berlioz. He made the music come alive. I own – with the precious contribution by two donators from this blog – the complete cycle of Davis recordings. It wonderful to hear this opera performed as Berlioz would have wanted in 1834. My eyes were opened to the beauty of this forgotten stage work. A MUST for a lover of Hector Berlioz. His operas were pushed aside in the 19th century only to flower in the 20th century. His name has been re-stored in the world in the Opera. A true equal to Verdi, Wagner, Strauss plus the other greats. A truly gifted artist. Berlioz was a rare genius, generally unappreciated in his own day, but now fully recovered. The late Colin Davis has much to do with that, and this wonderful recording was an important part of that rebirth. Especially the fabulous multi-lingual tenor, Nicolai Gedda, offers here a clinic on superb French style and diction, not to mention unsurpassed beauty of shading and tone. The entire cast I judge to be excellent, the story fun and filled with vocal frolic, the orchestra unbeatable.
Composer: Hector Berlioz
Performer: Nicolai Gedda, Hugues Cuénod, Derek Blackwell, Christiane Eda-Pierre, Janine Reiss, Jane Berbié, Jules Bastin
Orchestra: B.B.C. Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Colin Davis
Number of discs: 4
DR-Analysis: DR 14
Size: 3:12 GB
During his studies in Italy Berlioz became aquinted with the biography of the famous Florentine sculptor, goldsmith and rogue, Benvenuto Cellini, in whose life he found parallels with his own. He was one of the first of the Renaissance `hero artists’ ,where great talent seemed to justify everything,including breaking the law. Berlioz was also a very reckless character, one of many, in fact, in the Romantic era, he was followed by Lord Byron,Wagner (Die Meistersinger) and much later Richard Strauss (Ein Heldenleben).
In fact, Die Meistersinger bears some resemblance to the Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini: being a grand scale comic work, the hero artist’s struggle against his dectractors, his fight against mediocrity in winning his beloved. Unfortunately Berlioz’s opera never gained the popularity Die Meistersinger did, due to perhaps its virtuoso score, high demands on singers, double and triple choruses of extreme difficulty and extravagant stage settings plus requiring a master conductor who can hold all this together.
We are fortunate however of having found the right man for this job: Sir Colin Davis, who devoted a large portion of his career to studying and rediscovering Berlioz, that marvel and “enfant terrible” of Romanticism. This is definitely the best of the two available recordings of this tremendous work. It comes from 1958, but digitally remastered and is as fresh as new. Sir Colin Davis is the most attractive drawing card here, he conducts with masterful control and concentration, whipping the orchestra thru the long and virtouso score with never a dull moment.
One must listen to the finale of the first act, the incredibly complex Roman Carnival with all soloists, several choruses and orchestra going in all directions, cross rhythms and the like -an extremely difficult conducting achievement. Also, the last scene, when the statue is cast, the excitement mounts and mounts to such degree that one is glued to the edge of his seat.
The singers are also very good: Nicolai Gedda (whom you might have guessed is one of my favorite singers) has a strong and also sensitive voice and excellent French pronounciation in the title role. In the soprano role Christiane Edda-Pierre stands up well against Gedda, her voice is somewhat light and lyrical.
(It should be mentioned that this being a dramatic opera,like Wagner, there are no coloraturas and other unnecessary vocal fireworks.)
I like the mezzo soprano Jane Barbie in the role of Ascanio whose aria is probably the loveliest piece in the score and she does it very well. In the remainder roles, Roger Soyer as Pope Clement is impressive and the two comic characters (Balducci and Fieramosca- the detractors- a la Beckmesser/Hanslick in Die Meistersinger)-are also very creditable.
To sum up: If you haven’t heard this opera before, you are in for a delightful surprise. It is full of melody,excitement and fun throughout.
The Met revived it for the 2004 season under Levine very successfully.
Analyzed folder: /96k Berlioz – Benvenuto Cellini
DR Peak RMS Filename
DR14 -0.48 dB -20.34 dB sideA.aif
DR16 -0.81 dB -22.89 dB sideB.aif
DR15 -1.40 dB -21.00 dB sideC.aif
DR14 -0.60 dB -19.71 dB sideD.aif
DR16 -1.16 dB -22.60 dB sideE.aif
DR15 -1.09 dB -21.02 dB sideF.aif
DR15 -0.52 dB -21.58 dB sideG.aif
DR13 -0.71 dB -19.30 dB sideH.aif
Number of files: 8
Official DR value: DR15
- Chorus – Chorus Of The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
- Chorus Master – Douglas Robinson
- Composed By – Hector Berlioz
- Conductor – Colin Davis
- Orchestra – B.B.C. Symphony Orchestra
- Tenor Vocals [An Innkeeper] – Hugues Cuénod
- Tenor Vocals [Benvenuto Cellini] – Nicolai Gedda
- Tenor Vocals [Francesco] – Derek Blackwell
- Vocals [Baritone: Fieramosca] – Robert Massard
- Vocals [Baritone: Pompeo] – Raimund Herinckx
- Vocals [Bas: Giacomo Balducci] – Jules Bastin
- Vocals [Bass: Bernardino] – Robert Lloyd
- Vocals [Bass: Pope Clement Vii] – Roger Soyer
- Vocals [Mezzosoprano: Ascanio] – Jane Berbié
- Vocals [Soprano: Teresa] – Christiane Eda-Pierre
- Vocals [Speaker: Columbine] – Janine Reiss
- Written By [Libretto] – Auguste Barbier, Leon De Wailly
- 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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