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Gluck: Alceste

Christoph Willibald Gluck , John Eliot Gardiner , English Baroque Soloists , Monteverdi Choir Audio CD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)


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MP3 Music, 36 Songs, 2002 $18.99  
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Gluck: Alceste + Gluck: Armide
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Product Details

  • Performer: Monteverdi Choir
  • Orchestra: English Baroque Soloists
  • Conductor: John Eliot Gardiner
  • Composer: Christoph Willibald Gluck
  • Audio CD (September 10, 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Philips
  • ASIN: B000068VL1
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #244,444 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Ouverture
2. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Act 1. Chœur: Dieux, rendez-nous notre roi, notre père!... Récitatif: Peuples, éco
3. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Act 1. Chœur à deux parties: Ô malheureux Admète!... Récitatif: Sujets du roi le p
4. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Act 1. Air: Grands Dieux! du destin qui m'accable... Récitatif: Suivez-moi dans le
5. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Act 1. Pantomime
6. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Act 1. Récitatif: Dieu puissant... Choeur et solo: Dieu puissant
7. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Act 1. Récitatif: Dispensateur de la lumiÃ..re... Choeur et solo: Dieu puissant... Ré
8. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Act 1. Récitatif: Immortel Apollon!... Pantomime pour le Sacrifice
9. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Act 1. Récitatif: Apollon est sensible à vos gémissements... Solo: Le roi doit mou
10. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Act 1. Récitatif: Où suis-je? Ô malheureuse Alceste!... Air: Non, ce n'est point u
See all 16 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Act 2. Chœur avec la danse: Parez vos fronts de fleurs nouvelles
2. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Act 2. Air: Ô Dieux! soutenez mon courage... Chœur: Parez vos fronts de fleurs nou
3. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Act 2. Air: Bannis la crainte et les alarmes... Récitatif: Ciel! - Tu pleures?
4. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Act 2. Air: Je n'ai jamais chéri la vie... Récitatif: Tu m'aimes, je t'adore... Ch
5. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Act 2. Récitatif: Grands Dieux! pour mon époux... Chœur: Tant de grâces, tant de b
6. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Act 2. Air: Ah! malgré moi, mon faible cœur... Air: Ô Ciel! quel supplice, quelle
7. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Act 3. Récitatif: Nous ne pouvons trop répandre de larmes... Chœur à deux parties:
8. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Act 3. Récitatif: Après de longs travaux... Chœur à deux parties: Pleure, ô patrie
9. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Act 3. Récitatif: Au pouvoir de la mort je saurai la ravir... Air: C'est en vain q
10. Alceste (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 44: Act 3. Récitatif: Grands Dieux, soutenez mon courage!... Chœur des Dieux Infernaux
See all 19 tracks on this disc

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alceste brought back to life October 22, 2002
Format:Audio CD
The Gluck revival continues to gain in strength with this striking new recording of his tragic opera "Alceste" from John Eliot Gardiner. Gluck wrote the original, Italian version of "Alceste" in 1767 after his first and most famous reform opera, "Orfeo ed Euridice". He later revised it in a version for the French stage in 1776. The result - the score recorded here- is a distinct improvement all round. Gluck cut much of the repetition that made the original version so static (it was accused of being like `a funeral in three acts') and generally sharpened up the musical drama. Yet "Alceste", even in this superior version, has never achieved the popularity of "Orfeo", despite the fact it was allegedly the favourite opera of Berlioz, Gluck's greatest admirer. As Gardiner says in the booklet: " `Alceste' belongs to the category of operas that are famous but hardly known."
The plots of "Orfeo" and "Alceste" are in fact strikingly similar. Both involve the protagonists risking their lives to save their spouses from death. In "Orfeo", Orpheus loses his wife and has to descend the Underworld to rescue her. In "Alceste", Admetus, King of Thessaly is dying. The gods promise to save his life if anyone is willing to take his place. His courageous wife, Alcestis, volunteers. But the story ends happily as she is snatched from the jaws of death by the hero Hercules. The Alcestis myth has been nowhere near as popular with composers as the Orpheus story. This is mainly due to the fact that Orpheus, as the god of music, provided composers ample opportunity to show off their skills. In fact I can only think of two other Alcestis operas: Lully's "Alceste" (1674) and Handel's "Admeto" (1727).
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE MAN IS A GREAT MASTER September 2, 2006
Format:Audio CD
Thus spake Shaw, writing about Gluck towards the end of the 19th century. Shaw went on to allege that the musical culture of his time had not fully caught up with this great master and reformer of opera, and the very thoughtful and instructive essay that Gardiner contributes here suggests to me that there may still, in the third millennium, be a little catching up to do. Whatever one thinks of Gluck, either as a composer or as a musical dramatist or as an operatic rationalist and reformer, it seems to me that he was very clear-headed in one basic respect - he knew the difference between musical drama and musical tableau. Classical drama has an inherent tendency towards tableau, with its statues, white-robed women, prophets, deities and heroes. This still tempts producers of Gluck's operas into statuesque stagings with a certain immobility about them. I don't necessarily find fault with this, what I do suggest is that Gluck's operas can't all be viewed in the same way. Even when the libretto is, like that of Armide, an uneasy combination of the dramatic with the statuesque, Gluck is always clear in his mind which mode he is operating in. When it comes to Alceste, the book of the opera is clearly dramatic all the way through. Gluck can see this, and Gardiner's remarks as well as his direction suggest to me that he sees it this way too.

This basic view underlies the way I hear this performance. Gardiner's approach seems to me thoroughly considered and consistent, and one of the things that I like best about it is that I seem to be listening to not just Gluck the composer but Gluck the reformer. There is a great sense of dramatic pace about it all. Speeds are never allowed to drag, but the sense of pace is not a sense of rush either.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gardiner is great February 20, 2003
Format:Audio CD
The second reviewer basically has said it all. (I reviewed the DVD a couple of years ago - and am still in love with this performance - great to have in on CD now too) I must disagree with the first reviewer. I think that Gardiner's understanding of the earlier French Baroque music and of late 18th century music in general has enabled him to be the real force that brings this music to life. The playing is extremely expressive without going into the world of 19th century Romanticism. Annie Soffie Von Otter could not be more perfect in the part of Alceste!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alceste November 30, 2011
Format:Audio CD
Alceste is a 2002 Universal Music International recording starring Anne Sophie Von Otter in the role as Alceste. John Eliot Gardiner leads the English Baroque Soloist. We also have the immense pleasure to listen to the Monteverdi Choir. Gardiner has himself written the music notes. Patricia Howard has also contributed with music notes. The lyrics are available in French, German and English. The booklet contains 148 pages. Anne Sophie Von Otter is truly outstanding. Truly a tremendous recording. Highly recommended indeed. 5/5.
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9 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What larvae ? January 15, 2003
Format:Audio CD
There is much to be admired in Anne Sofie Von Otter's interpretation : she makes of Alceste a truly moving character, and really charges each word with meaning and expression. Compare this and her interpretation of Clytemnestre in "Iphigénie en Aulide" (Gardiner - Erato) recorded 10 or fifteen years ago and you will hear how her knowledge and diction of the French language have improved to reach perfection. However her voice sounds too stretched by the tessitura of the role and, if still powerful, discolours at the bottom of the range especially. Because of that, I'm afraid the Alceste of Jessye Norman for Baudo is still too strong of a contestant : she might be a bit too diva-esque to make you believe that she is a real character, but the voice is just too beautiful for words. Baudo's set also has Nicolai Gedda's Admète.
Then there is Gardiner's conducting. I really do not think that he brings life to the piece : on the contrary, I find his conducting rather cold, as often, more an intellectual approach than something coming from the heart.
What I found really irritating, is that he allowed himself to change the lyrics of the only well-known aria of the whole work : under Gardiner the aria "Divinités du Styx,..." becomes "Ombres, larves..." (a literal translation of the Italian version's libretto). How presomptious is this ! Gardiner justifies this in the booklet by saying that Berlioz had himself recommended this alternative verse when he adapted the work for his prima donna. However she refused to change the text and still sang the aria starting with "Divinités du Styx"... I guess she also found the "new" lyrics sounded too ridiculous in French ("What larvae ?").
Not the ideal set then... When will we get a version conducted by Minkowski ?
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