Berlioz: Roméo et Juliette - Gergiev

Berlioz: Roméo et Juliette - Gergiev

LSO Live  LSO0762 (2 discs)

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral

Berlioz: Roméo et Juliette; Benvenuto Cellini

Olga Borodina (mezzo-soprano)
Kenneth Tarver (tenor)
Evgeny Nikitin (bass-baritone)
London Symphony Chorus
Guildhall School Singers
London Symphony Orchestra
Valery Gergiev (conductor)

Released in the year of Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary, Valery Gergiev and London Symphony Orchestra are joined by soloists Olga Borodina, Kenneth Tarver and Evgeny Nikitin for Berlioz' 'Roméo et Juliette', recorded live at the Barbican Hall in November 2013. Part of a major series of eight concerts, this work toured to venues in the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria and France.

A large-scale ‘symphonie dramatique’, 'Roméo et Juliette' was the fruit of the composer’s dual fascination with Shakespeare and with the actress Harriet Smithson, whom he was later to marry. Using the story of the star-crossed lovers as a starting point, Shakespeare’s passion and drama is deftly portrayed through his music, as well as through the abundance of lyrical poetry, written by French poet Émile Deschamps.

Grammy-award winning mezzo-soprano Olga Borodina is a star of the Mariinsky Theatre, regularly appearing at major opera houses and with great orchestras around the world. Borodina made her highly acclaimed European debut at Covent Garden, in 1992, sharing the stage with Plácido Domingo in 'Samson et Dalila' – a performance that launched her international solo career as one of the most sought after mezzos for her repertoire.

Kenneth Tarver is considered one of the outstanding tenore-di-grazia of his time. He has appeared at the most prestigious opera houses and concert halls around the world specialising in Mozart and challenging, oratorio repertoire. He has appeared on previous LSO Live recordings, notably 'Les Troyens' conducted by Sir Colin Davis. Bass-baritone Evgeny Nikitin trained at the St Petersburg State Conservatory, graduating in 1997. He has been described as "physically, vocally, a complete star" by The Independent. His first solo performances were with the Mariinsky Orchestra and have been followed by invitations to perform across the world. His discography includes other recordings with Valery Gergiev, including 'Parsifal' on the Mariinsky Label.

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DSD recording

Recorded live on 6th and on 13th December 2013 at the Barbican Hall, London, United Kingdom, DSD64

Recording producer: James Mallinson

Balance engineer, audio editor, mixing and mastering: Jonathan Stokes (Classic Sound Ltd)

Recording engineer: Neil Hutchinson (Classic Sound Ltd)

Recording software: Merging Technologies Pyramix
Comments (5)

Comment by Waveform - July 12, 2016 (1 of 5)

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User request

Comment by hiredfox - July 12, 2016 (2 of 5)

In my experience of his time in London Gergiev was particularly adept at refreshing many of the often tired French repertoire favourites. His Berlioz cycle was outstanding.

Comment by hiredfox - August 9, 2016 (3 of 5)

You might be interested to know that the first disc of this two-disc set would not work in my stereo SACD player, the display reading "Can't Play". The second disc was fine. This is the first faulty SACD disc that I have encountered in 15 years!

I am in the process of returning the disc. It was bought from English Postbox, an Amazon listed retailer working on links from here.

Comment by hiredfox - August 19, 2016 (4 of 5)

Good Morning. I am delighted to report that the faulty disc 1 of my recently purchased set was replaced immediately by English Postbox; it plays perfectly so no problems with this being a faulty batch problem.

Berlioz's masterpiece is played with exceptional sensitivity and passion by the LSO in a captivating performance from Valery Gergiev that grips from beginning to end, one in which even the oft criticised Finale chorus seems secure in its place. The third scene has never been my favourite admittedly but Simon Halsey and his LS Chorus seem to revel in its challenges providing a thrilling climax. There are some truly wonderful moments of such loving tenderness from the LSO strings in particular (part 1) that old blubberers like me find it nigh on impossible to hold back a few tears. An excellent addition to the discography and one not to miss. As the 2-disc set splits after Part 2 some may elect to play only Disc 1 at one sitting - perhaps understandably - but it would be a mistake to do so.

I was lucky enough to attend Gergiev's Berlioz concerts at The Barbican Hall a year or two ago, from which his recent recordings were derived and can attest to the accuracy and balance of these recordings. No place here for prejudices about the Hall's sound quality, this is an excellent recording of an outstanding performance, Gergiev may have moved on but clearly his legacy remains. Bravo!

The LSO are no strangers to this work and their pedigree clearly shows in this 'new' recording. Sir Colin Davis led acclaimed performances in 1968 & 2000, the latter on LSO Live 003 but alas not on SACD. In many ways Gergiev has mirrored the late maestro's love of this composer in his survey of the Berlioz 'symphonies' and we have now the wonderful opportunity on LSO Live of comparing their interpretations.

Comment by Waveform - March 11, 2017 (5 of 5)

Actually there's just Roméo et Juliette. Benvenuto Cellini Overture has to be some kind of error - my SACD copy didn't include it.