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77 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Change is good... right?
This new 2010 recording of Les Miserables provides some interesting surprises. First, it's a live recording, so there's some "extra" noises throughout, such as some odd-sounding fight sounds at the end of "The Confrontation," as well as applause from the audience. It can be slightly distracting at times, but it never really gets in the way of the performance you...
Published on October 13, 2010 by mvaljean

versus
168 of 220 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tricked
Am I the only one that is upset that this is not the cast from the 25th anniversary concert? I have watched the concert online and watched various songs on YouTube multiple times, and this whole "related recordings" nonsense is bull. Where is the real cast album, with Alfie Boe and Lea Salonga and Norm Lewis and Nick Jonas and Samantha Barks and Katie Hall and Ramin...
Published on March 5, 2011 by Robbbin


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77 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Change is good... right?, October 13, 2010
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This review is from: Les Miserables 2010 Cast (Audio CD)
This new 2010 recording of Les Miserables provides some interesting surprises. First, it's a live recording, so there's some "extra" noises throughout, such as some odd-sounding fight sounds at the end of "The Confrontation," as well as applause from the audience. It can be slightly distracting at times, but it never really gets in the way of the performance you hear.

For someone who is used to the previous recordings, this new live album is interesting to hear. The performances are certainly well done, given how they have to compete with the classic performances everyone is used to listening to. It's hard for anyone to compete with Colm Wilkinson, but John Owen-Jones does a great job and provides a wonderful interpretation of the part. Earl Carpenter is likewise a very good Javert. The other performances are also good, but none quite stand out as amazing to me. Again, as it is a live recording, one can perhaps imagine how much of these individuals performances may be visual as well (especially the Thenardiers for example).

Now to detail the changes to the show. Like any show, Les Miz has necessarily evolved over the years. This current album gives a glimpse of the changes that have taken place for the 25th Anniversary touring production. First thing I noticed (as a former band geek) were the orchestrations. Again, being live, they don't have the full orchestra was used in either the 10th Anniversary or Complete Symphonic recordings, but you can still notice some differences. Generally, it sounds more energetic, and the pace is quicker. There are less instrumental sections (or they're shorter), likely to keep the show under 3 hours. It was nice to get a piece of the previously un-recorded "Valjean meets Cosette" scene that was added to the show in the 90s.

As for the packaging: The 2 CD-set comes with a nice insert with some nice interviews/essays about the 25 years of Les Miz. Also, they appear to have wanted to put as much music in as possible to fit into the CDs (and they got most of it). Although I wonder in this digital age, why not have a fuller "deluxe" edition for download?

Overall, I give this recording 4 stars. It's great to get a new fresh take on the show, and it's overall great to listen to (good example being "One Day More.") As someone who grew up with the classic recordings (Complete Symphonic and the 10th Anniversary being my faves), this will never be my favorite recording of Les Miz, but it still stands on its own and is a valuable addition to any Les Miserables collection.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A 21st Century Look at Les Misérables, October 31, 2010
By 
MSam (Queensland, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Les Miserables 2010 Cast (Audio CD)
Les Mis is arguably one of the most popular musicals ever created. This 2 disk, live recording of the 25th anniversary tour edition joins a plateau of Les Mis recordings, each of which possess different positives and negatives. Fans of earlier Les Miserables recordings will probably be unable to avoid comparing some of the interpretations of the roles performed on this CD to earlier recordings. On a whole, the cast is a good representation of the show, boasting a performance of an almost-complete score, with some fantastic tweaks from the original for a great addition to the Les Mis catalogue.

The Cast - the main area that most fans will be interested in. General consensus is that the definitive Valjean is Colm Wilkinson, but John Owen Jones shines in his role. His approach to Valjean is more subtle and emotional than Wilkinson, however he still manages to produce a commanding and powerful tone in the urgent moments of the score. 'Bring Him Home' is a highlight of the soundtrack, with the vocals soaring over the orchestration, flicking with ease between the high and low register with such dynamics and emotion the result is breathtaking. Another commendable effort is delivered by Earl Carpenter as Javert. Filling the shoes of Phillip Quast is probably impossible, but like Jones, Carpenter delivers an excellent and commendable spin on Javert. The performance of 'Stars' is excellent, showcasing his vocals as a strong baritone, and delivering Javert's soliloquy passionately.

The majority of the cast are good, but some are left behind in the shadows of their predecessors. Madalena Alberto has had some atrocious direction, boasting an impressive array of ways to sigh and breathe. Her interpretation of Fantine comes across as rushed and flawed on this recording. Her voice is distinctively musical theatre, however it also seems to be a hybrid of pop as her voice belts quite a lot and frequently scoops to notes, making her role slightly emotionally detached compared to the likes of Ruthie Henshall. The most bizarre spin on the characters is Eponine, with Rosalin James (again, probably a victim of poor direction) producing a dramatic contrast with original Frances Ruffelle or fan favourite Lea Salonga. The performance of 'On My Own' on this recording is by far my least favourite, with the opening being altered to a bounce/swing/cakewalk. Like Alberto, James possesses a formidable and distinct musical-esque voice, but her embellishments and licks on the belt notes are unremarkable, generic, and sound out of place amongst the classic orchestration of the score.

The rest of the cast are fine. Both Gareth Gates and Jon Roybns deliver well on Marius and Enjolras, but both possess such youthful voices their timbre and richness in tone are lacking. This doesn't stop them in their showcase moments in the score - Gates' performance of Empty Chairs and Tables is quite touching, and Roybns' leading the cast in 'Do You Hear the People Sing?' is still a string anthem. Katie Hall delivers a sweet and innocent Cosette with an interpretation that is a delight for the ears. The Thénardiers and Gavroche are fairly pedestrian with their performances sounding a little grating on the ears, but then again, a recording of the live show embodies a great amount of character that wouldn't have been remembered otherwise.

The number of pros out-way the cons in this CD set. With a rare exception, this is almost an entire recording of the show, an excellent quality that not all the Les Mis CDs have. The chorus on this recording is excellent - the live atmosphere and raw emotion of the cast is caught so well that this recording could probably boast the most vibrant and lively chorus in the Les Mis series. The orchestration is also a highlight, with the score wisely and largely sticking to the original score, but with a much fuller sound via embellishments and ornamentation, and superior mixing. The only production downside of the recording is that much of the spoken dialogue and 'reactions' are caught. The dialogue isn't so much of a problem, but in certain instances (such as 'A Little Fall of Rain') the gasping/moaning/crying is just too much and far too over the top, I'm not sure if I can face listening to it again. Ultimately it just detracts from the beauty of the music. Since I'm being pedantic, in addition the cast also have a diverse catalogue of accents that make the score sound slightly disjointed and inconsistent, but that's hardly . While there are some cases where the music seems a little off balanced, the mixing and overall production is incredible, rivalling some studio recordings for such articulate and well captured sound.

So overall, would I recommend this CD? Yes, for Les Mis fans and passionates it's a fine addition to the Les Mis canon, and for new-comers it is a good introduction to the musical, especially when it boasts such sophisticated production from a live show. While the cast have some weak points, overall they are very pleasing to listen to, and they are backed by a great ensemble and band which manages to effectively represents the show, and there's great value to be found in this set which is essentially the complete show. I don't really have much to complain about here - this is recommended from me.

(Original review can be viewed here: 2010 London Cast)
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A 21st Century Look at Les Misérables, September 22, 2010
By 
MSam (Queensland, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Les Miserables Live (Audio CD)
Les Mis is arguably one of the most popular musicals ever created. This 2 disk, live recording of the 25th anniversary tour edition joins a plateau of Les Mis recordings, each of which possess different positives and negatives. Fans of earlier Les Miserables recordings will probably be unable to avoid comparing some of the interpretations of the roles performed on this CD to earlier recordings. On a whole, the cast is a good representation of the show, boasting a performance of an almost-complete score, with some fantastic tweaks from the original for a great addition to the Les Mis catalogue.

The Cast - the main area that most fans will be interested in. General consensus is that the definitive Valjean is Colm Wilkinson, but John Owen Jones shines in his role. His approach to Valjean is more subtle and emotional than Wilkinson, however he still manages to produce a commanding and powerful tone in the urgent moments of the score. 'Bring Him Home' is a highlight of the soundtrack, with the vocals soaring over the orchestration, flicking with ease between the high and low register with such dynamics and emotion the result is breathtaking. Another commendable effort is delivered by Earl Carpenter as Javert. Filling the shoes of Phillip Quast is probably impossible, but like Jones, Carpenter delivers an excellent and commendable spin on Javert. The performance of 'Stars' is excellent, showcasing his vocals as a strong baritone, and delivering Javert's soliloquy passionately.

The majority of the cast are good, but some are left behind in the shadows of their predecessors. Madalena Alberto boasts an impressive array of ways to sigh and breathe, her interpretation of Fantine coming across a little flawed on this recording. Her voice is distinctively musical theatre, however it also seems to be a hybrid of pop as her voice belts quite a lot and frequently scoops to notes, making her role slightly emotionally detached compared to Ruthie Henshall. The most bizarre spin on the characters is Eponine, with Rosalin James producing a dramatic contrast with original Frances Ruffelle or fan favourite Lea Salonga. The performance of 'On My Own' on this recording is by far my least favourite, with the opening being altered to a bounce/swing/cakewalk. Like Alberto, James possesses a formidable and distinct musical-esque voice, but her embellishments and licks on the belt notes are unremarkable, generic, and sound out of place amongst the classic orchestration of the score.

The rest of the cast are fine. Both Gareth Gates and Jon Roybns deliver well on Marius and Enjolras, but both possess such youthful voices their timbre and richness in tone are lacking. This doesn't stop them in their showcase moments in the score - Gates' performance of Empty Chairs and Tables is quite touching, and Roybns' leading the cast in 'Do You Hear the People Sing?' is still a string anthem. Katie Hall delivers a sweet and innocent Cosette with an interpretation that is a delight for the ears. The Thénardiers and Gavroche are fairly pedestrian with their performances sounding a little grating on the ears, but then again, a recording of the live show embodies a great amount of character that wouldn't have been remembered otherwise.

The number of pros out-way the cons in this CD set. With a rare exception, this is almost an entire recording of the show, an excellent quality that not all the Les Mis CDs have. The chorus on this recording is excellent - the live atmosphere and raw emotion of the cast is caught so well that this recording could probably boast the most vibrant and lively chorus in the Les Mis series. The orchestration is also a highlight, with the score wisely and largely sticking to the original score, but with a much fuller sound via embellishments and ornamentation, and superior mixing. The only production downside of the recording is that much of the spoken dialogue and 'reactions' are caught. The dialogue isn't so much of a problem, but in certain instances (such as 'A Little Fall of Rain') the gasping/moaning/crying is just too much and far too over the top, I'm not sure if I can face listening to it again. Ultimately it just detracts from the beauty of the music. Since I'm being pedantic, in addition the cast also have a diverse catalogue of accents that make the score sound slightly disjointed and inconsistent, but that's hardly . While there are some cases where the music seems a little off balanced, the mixing and overall production is incredible, rivalling some studio recordings for such articulate and well captured sound.

So overall, would I recommend this CD? Yes, for Les Mis fans and passionates it's a fine addition to the Les Mis canon, and for new-comers it is a good introduction to the musical, especially when it boasts such sophisticated production from a live show. While the cast have some weak points, overall they are very pleasing to listen to, and they are backed by a great ensemble and band which manages to effectively represents the show, and there's great value to be found in this set which is essentially the complete show. I don't really have much to complain about here - this is recommended from me.
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168 of 220 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tricked, March 5, 2011
This review is from: Les Miserables 2010 Cast (Audio CD)
Am I the only one that is upset that this is not the cast from the 25th anniversary concert? I have watched the concert online and watched various songs on YouTube multiple times, and this whole "related recordings" nonsense is bull. Where is the real cast album, with Alfie Boe and Lea Salonga and Norm Lewis and Nick Jonas and Samantha Barks and Katie Hall and Ramin Karimloo. On top of that, I had actually ordered the CD before but because something went wrong, I had to order it again. Thank God I listened to the samples before I bought it again. If I had received this CD, I would have been pissed and sent it back because that is not what I ordered. I ordered a cast recording from the 25th anniversary concert and by golly, I will get it.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars *** 1/2 A juiced-up live performance that is short of major singers, December 19, 2010
This review is from: Les Miserables 2010 Cast (Audio CD)
The Gramophone picked this 25th anniversary Les Miserables as one of their outstanding records of the month, noting that for all intents and purposes the work is an opera. Well, no. But as a musical it makes extraordinary vocal demands on its cast. This helps account for why many of us keep shuffling from one recording to the next, hoping to hear a uniform cast that can sing every role, even the smallest, as it deserves to be sung. In the ranking of cast albums released so far -- there have been many, counting foreign productions -- this live account from Manchester stands a notch above the middle.

The singing cast does best in the two central antagonists, Valjean and Javert. John Owen-Jones tends to imitate the vocal inflections imprinted on the role of Valean by the original, Colm Wilkinson, yet on his own he has the right vocal range -- better than wilkinson when he got too old for the part -- and his only real flaw, shared by others in this production, is that he can be overwrought, although competing with Wilkinson on that score is nearly impossible. (Quite a lot of the singers lapse into parlando, speaking snatches of the melody to make a dramatic point but meanwhile losing the lyric line.) Earl Carpenter follows in a long line of excellent Javerts -- I can't think of a bad one. He tries not to sound like the others by chopping some of his long phrases into smaller segments expressed with added bite and venom. It works well enough, even though a vocally splendid Javert is more to my taste.

Productions of this musical all tend to falter with the two romantic leads, Cosette and Marius, and that's true here. The roles call for a real lyric tenor and soprano with serious training behind them; the current Broadway style of bawling into the microphone won't work. Gareth Gates and Katie Hall are young and appealing, and they don't bawl, but for sheer vocal quality they can't be compared to the best. However, what pulls the whole production down, in my estimation, is that someone has decided that Les Miserables, being old and familiar, needs a vitamin B injection to fend off tired blood. Listen to the badly overdone "Master of the House," which turns a clever bit of Dickensian humor into something grotesque out of Hogarth. This is typical of the extra punch added to almost every scene. I resent the loss of simple lyrical pleasure. There is too much sobbing, snarling, and general histrionics.

And as often happens, energizing the action comes at the expense of sincerity. "Bring Him Home" doesn't need to be belted out to the nth degree, as it is here -- shouting doesn't improve upon singing when it comes to moving the listener. This cast doesn't seem as convincing emotionally as those that came before. Music director Michael England is generally brusque, and he is often tempted to vulgarize music that was garish to begin with; the orchestrations have been amped up in the same vein. More distressingly, the earnest humanity of Hugo's story has been turned into theatrical business, pumped out to get the audience worked up at every moment. The piece deserves better.

Here's the listed cast:

John Owen-Jones (Jean Valjean), Earl Carpenter (Javert), Ashley Artus (Thénardier), Lynne Wilmot (Madame Thénardier), Gareth Gates (Marius), Rosalind James (Eponine), Madalena Alberto (Enjolras), Katie Hall (Cosette)

Michael England, conductor

Recorded live at the Palace Theatre Manchester, February 2010
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For fans of John Owen Jones, April 16, 2011
This review is from: Les Miserables 2010 Cast (Audio CD)
I've seen Les Miserables more times than I can count, in New York, London, and on tour, and without exception the greatest Jean ValJean I've ever seen was John Owen Jones. After an equally excellent turn as the Phantom, fans of his have been clamoring for him to be included in a cast recording, and were hoping he would land the role in the 25th Anniversary Concert. The producers went in another direction and cast Alfie Boe, a classically trained opera singer, for the concert. This recording is the consolation prize to fans of John Owen Jones. The gravy was Earl Carpenter for Javert.

Opera and musical theater are cousins, but they are not the same. Operatic singing is far more technical, whereas musical theater occasionally substitutes technique for an infusion of dramatic inflection. Sometimes notes are clipped or shortened in the interest of acting. Thus, while Alfie Boe's renditions of the songs may be more pleasing to listen to from a strict standpoint of pure musicality, John Owen Jones is far more interesting to watch, which is why I think they got the casting for these two productions exactly backwards. Anyone who bought this album thinking it was a recording of the 25th Anniversary concert should take a remedial reading course, or perhaps get some more practice on The Google Machine.

As to the rest of the cast, I can't say enough good things about Earl Carpenter as Javert (who turned up in the 25th Anniversary concert as the Bishop, and would have made a far better Javert than Norm Lewis, who I saw in New York nearly a decade ago and remains the worst Javert I have ever seen). I also can't say enough bad things about the actors playing Marius and Enjolras, who are so bad I couldn't even be bothered to look up their names. If you think Nick Jonas was a bad Marius (and I do), just try this guy. By the end of the first act, I had the distinct impression that Marius and Enjolras were going to elope together.

The Thenardiers and Eponine were unremarkable, Cossette (as is so often the case) was screechy, and Fantine wasn't particularly moving either. I think that the mediocrity of this recording blends pretty well with the mediocrity of the 25th Anniversary concert. With the exceptions of ValJean (who was great in both), and Marius (who was horrible in both), where one version falls short the other excels, and vice versa. They kind of make a nice companion to one another. Yes, I would have preferred if they had just done one really excellent, perfect new version, but as a big fan of the show I guess I can't complain about there being too many recordings. This may be one where you just want to buy a few of the songs, though, and mix it with better versions of songs from recordings you probably already own. Ever heard the Manchester Highlights recording? Jeff Leyton (imagine a Scottish Colm Wilkinson) and Mike Sterling (look closely and you can catch him on the chain gang of the 25th Anniversary Concert). And Phillip Quast, but then you probably already have his version of Stars, don't you.

NOTE TO READERS WHO HAVE TROUBLE READING: PHILLIP QUAST IS NOT IN THIS RECORDING.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now I feel like I've seen it at last!!, February 1, 2012
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This review is from: Les Miserables 2010 Cast (Audio CD)
Will be glad forever that I listened to the positive reviews more than the negative ones and bought this!!! And BTW, I am a musician and a music teacher. For those of us not fortunate enough to see Les Miz on stage, who've had to be content with partial recordings, this is the detailed version we were waiting for. I love my original Broadway cast discs but now they feel more like a "highlights" recording. This Valjean is just as good--or better(dare I say it!?)--than the amazing Wilkinson. I love hearing the live stage action, the improved music and lyrics, the applause (and yes, Marius crying... he's also much better than the Broadway Marius). Here are my only two disappointments with this version... and the first is major: Eponine, particularly in "On My Own". The song is at a RIDICULOUSLY fast tempo; it's the only track I must skip (or turn volume all the way down and sing on my own... pun intended). This Eponine's voice and interpretation seems completely wrong and cold to me, but at least "Little Fall of Rain" came out all right. My other complaint is with how this Javert sings his lines, though his voice seems fine. Other Javerts sing a much better interpretation. Thenardier and Cosette are maybe a bit weak, but not noticeably. The CDs themselves come with a GREAT booklet full of extras and pictures, in a good strong jewel case. Don't let Eponine scare you off... I LOVE this recording!!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Orchestrations, January 8, 2012
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This review is from: Les Miserables 2010 Cast (Audio CD)
A fine soundtrack for any Les Mis lover. John Owen-Jones is an extraordinary singer and his part in this is worth the price alone. The amount of emotion he puts into his role is incredible and makes him one of the finest Jean Valjeans that I've ever had the fortune of hearing. All of the '1' or '2' star reviews seem to be people complaining that there isn't a recording of the 25th anniversary concert. While that is disappointing, it has no room here. This is a place to review a brand new cast, not chide the producers for only releasing a DVD.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a good Jean Val Jean that's not Colm Wilkinson, December 25, 2010
This review is from: Les Miserables 2010 Cast (Audio CD)
John Owen Jones was long overdue for his own recording as Jean Val Jean, and I am glad he was chosen for this production. This is a live recording of the 25th anniversary production in London, and Jones, having previously played the role on the West End, is probably the best Jean Val Jean actor today. His performance alone makes this album worth purchasing. The other notable cast member is Earl Carpenter as Javert, and I must say that Javert is probably the most consistently good character in the Les Miserables recordings. There hasn't been a bad one yet. Bring Him Home and Stars are the best performed tracks on this album. The rest of the cast is capable, but not particularly noteworthy. Michael Ball is still the best Marius to this reviewer, and the Enjolras in this recording can't touch Michael Maguire or Anthony Warlow.

Unfortunately, they really quickened the pace of the music in this recording, which seriously limits the cast's ability to really revel in the music. I especially don't like the rendition of I Dreamed a Dream in this album, because it really requires a slower tempo. I've always liked Patti Lupone's rendition, because I felt the slower tempo allowed the audience to really feel Fantine's grief; speeding up the song just ruins its emotional impact. The Fantine in this album, Madeline Alberto, also imbues the song with a pop style that I think is inappropriate.

I do like the orchestrations in the album, and it contains updated lyrics in some songs. Overall, it's a decent album that Les Mis junkies MUST own for John Owen Jones, but if you just want one recording, your best bet is still the Tenth Anniversary Concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read before you buy!!, January 19, 2013
This review is from: Les Miserables 2010 Cast (Audio CD)
C'mon, folks. There's a big difference between "2010 Live in Concert!" and "25th Anniversary Performance" and a third grader should be able to spot it. Stop posting negative reviews of the former because you "thought" you were buying the latter. They are both excellent on their own, individual merits. How could you possibly have anything negative to say about John-Owen Jones' and Earl Carpenter's respective performances as Valjean and Javert??
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