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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | New Berlioz: Les Troyens Album Floats In A Sea Of Unnecessary Releases

By Norman Lebrecht on November 3, 2017

Berlioz: Les Troyens (Erato)

★★★★★ (out of five)

Almost every new release I sampled this week should never have been made. One album after another lacked conviction, coherence and, sometimes, pulse. These are records where label and artist ask one another what to do next without either side asking aloud whether this project is absolutely necessary.

None of which can be said about the present release. The need for a new-gen recording of Berlioz’s epic opera is pressing, given that the last two trustworthy attempts, by the late Sir Colin Davis, are wearing thin. Erato’s no-holds-barred team is conducted by the Berlioz specialist John Nelson and features Joyce DiDonato and Michael Spyres as Dido and Aeneas, with Marie-Nicole Lemieu as Cassandra. The orchestra and choruses of Strasbourg are full-on in quite the most thrilling way. When they hit you with a battle cry, you stay hit.

Berlioz: Les Troyens (Live) John Nelson, Joyce DiDonato, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Michael Spyres & Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg
Berlioz: Les Troyens (Live): John Nelson, Joyce DiDonato, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Michael Spyres & Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg

Taken from two live performances and a patch session, the immediacy is irresistible and the authenticity unimpeachable. I won’t give you chapter and verse on a five-act opera lasting almost as many hours, but every live Troyens that I have seen loses pressure in the second or third act. Not this one. More than any individual artist in the team it is the collective full-onness of this event that will stay with me for a long time to come. It has to be the go-to Troyens for the next decade.

Berlioz: Les Troyens (Erato) is available starting November 24, 2017, at amazon.ca and iTunes.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.
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Ludwig Van Toronto

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Leó Weiner Ought To Be On Every Conductor’s Encore List

By Norman Lebrecht on September 25, 2020

A poet of timelessness, Hungarian composer Leó Weiner ought to be on every conductor’s encore list.
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LEBRECHT LISTENS | Benjamin Britten For The Edge Of Your Seat

By Norman Lebrecht on October 23, 2020

Benjamin Britten’s often overlooked Sinfonia da Requiem gets a hypertense new recording by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
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LEBRECHT LISTENS | Berliner Philharmoniker Samples Kirill Petrenko’s Passions With New Box Set

By Norman Lebrecht on October 2, 2020

The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra has issued an oblong boxed set of its inaugural concerts with music director Kirill Petrenko.
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