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Berlioz: La Damnation de Faust / Eliahu Inbal

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 20, 1991
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Part I: Scene I: Plains Of Hungary
  2. Part I: Scene II: Chorus Of Peasants
  3. Part I: Scene III: Another Part Of The Plain/An Army Advancing
  4. Part I: Scene III: Hungary March
  5. Part II: Scene IV: North Germany
  6. Part II: Scene IV: Easter Hymn
  7. Part II: Scene V: Allegro Moderato (O Pure Emotion)
  8. Part II: Scene VI: Auerbach's Cellar in Leipzig
  9. Part II: Scene VI: Chorus Of Drinkers
  10. Part II: Scene VI: Brander's Song
  11. Part II: Scene VI: Fugue On the Theme On Brander's Song
  12. Part II: Scene VI: Mephistopheles' Song
  13. Part II: Scene VII: Groves And Meadows By The Elbe/Mephistopheles' Aria
  14. Part II: Scene VII: Chorus Of Gnomes And Sylphs/Faust's Dream
  15. Part II: Scene VII: Dance Of The Sylphs
  16. Part II: Scene VII: Finale/Chorus Of Students And Soldiers Marching To The Town

Disc: 2

  1. Part III: Scene IX: Drums And Trompets Sounding Retreat
  2. Part III: Scene IX: Faust's Aria
  3. Part III: Scene X: Moderato ('I Can Hear Her')
  4. Part III: Scene XI: Allegretto Non Troppo Presto E Dolce (I'm As Frightened As A Child')
  5. Part III: Scene XI: The King Of Thule (Ballad)
  6. Part III: SCene XII: Evocation
  7. Part III: Scene XII: Minuet Of The Will O' The Wisps
  8. Part III: Scene XII: Mephistopheles' Serenade
  9. Part III: Scene XIII: Finale/Duo
  10. Part III: Scene XIV: Trio And Chorus
  11. Part IV: Scene XV: Romance
  12. Part IV: Scene XVI: Invocation To Nature
  13. Part IV: Scene XVII: Recitative And Hunt
  14. Part IV: Scene XVIII: The Ride To The Abyss
  15. Part IV: Scene XIX: Pandemonium
  16. Part IV: Epilogue: On Earth
  17. Part IV: Epilogue: In The Heaven
  18. Part IV: Epilogue: Marguerite's Apotheosis

Product Details

  • Orchestra: Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Eliahu Inbal
  • Composer: Hector Berlioz
  • Audio CD (August 20, 1991)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Denon
  • ASIN: B0000034V8
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #439,949 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By David Saemann VINE VOICE on August 16, 2008
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This is a highly persuasive performance of The Damnation of Faust. Eliahu Inbal has the full measure of the work, and his interpretation is brilliantly realized. His orchestra is not as spectacular as the Boston Symphony under Ozawa, but they play well and their overall tone is full and pleasant. There is more electricity in the LSO Live version conducted by Sir Colin Davis, but Inbal's interpretation in its way is just as satisfying. Tempos are moderate throughout and always justify themselves in the revelation of detail. This is probably the best sung version of the piece I know (I haven't heard the first Davis version with Nicolai Gedda.). Robert Lloyd as Mephistopheles is particularly outstanding. The combined three choruses make a beautiful sound, too. The sound engineering is a little distant but always clear, and the sound in tuttis is full and enveloping. I don't know if this is the best Faust around--there probably are too many facets to the work for there to be such a thing--but it is a very satisfying performance that makes for an enriching artistic experience.
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Most of us have come to look to Sir Colin Davis for our finest Berlioz recordings. No other conductor in the history of recordings did such great service to one of the towering geniuses of 19th century composition. But it is always wonderful to find out that others also have The Knack with this wayward composer's music. I say 'wayward' but should probably use the word 'divergent'. Berlioz bucked all the trends of his times, and his music to this day still surprises, sometimes shocks and occasionally scandalizes the uninitiated. He was extraordinarily 'modern' and there have been few, if any, composers since who have blazed such trails as he did, against all the odds and much opposition from the pedants at the Paris Conservatoire. Among other things he was the father of modern orchestration. All others took his lead, and it took them decades to have the guts to do what he did. Only Wagner, sometimes Verdi pushed the envelope of orchestration even further out into time until composers like Rimsky Korsakov, Richard Strauss and Igor Stravinsky went wild with their orchestras' potential.

La damnation du Faust is one of Berlioz's more 'difficult' scores. Some people find the subject matter, Goethe's 'Faust', distasteful and cruel, others think the music is full of kitschy, attention grabbing special effects. Couple to those blinkered examples there is the hellishly difficult tenor role (Faust) and an odd and understated leading lady (Marguerite) and a devil that steals the show. Audiences are less than ecstatic when compared to their joy at a performance of Symphonie Fantastique or, now, Les troyens.

The fact is Berlioz's Faust is a tremendously exciting, fascinating and ultimately deeply moving work. It is very operatic, and has occasionally been presented as such.
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