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Chausson: Le Roi Arthus/Armin Jordan (King Arthur) Box set, Import

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, Import, 1987
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Editorial Reviews

Lyric drama in 3 acts~~~~CD1~~Act I~~~CD2~~Act II~~~CD3~~Act III~~~~Guinevere - Teresa Zylis-Gara~~~Arthus - Gino Quilico~~~Lancelot - Gosta Winbergh~~~Mordred - Rene Massis~~~Lyonnel - Gerard Friedmann~~~Allan - Francois Loup~~~Merlin - Gilles Cachemaille~~~Laborer - Thierry Dran~~~Knight - Rene Schirrer~~~Squire - Alexandre Laitter~~~Soldier 1 & 2 - Michel Focquenoy~~~Soldier 3 - Francis Dudziak~~~Soldier 4 - Rene Schirrer

Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set, Import
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Erato
  • ASIN: B000BN7BI0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #507,527 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Leo J. Wolansky on April 15, 2007
For all of you Wagnerites who wished the maestro had written one more opera in his later years, your dream has come true...well almost. Ernest Chausson's "Le Roi Arthus" is the closest thing to a Wagner opera as you'll find. Apparently Chausson idolized Wagner and his music. According to the liner notes by John Underwood, after a trip to hear "The Ring", Chausson happened to catch a glimpse of Wagner and for the rest of his life cherished the image of Wagner's "noble head". Needless to say the music of Chausson's only opera reflects the influence of Wagner throughout--in the harmonies, the deceptive cadences, and the primary importance of the orchestra. This is not to say that the work is plagiarism. Chausson is writing in Wagner's musical language. It is only because Wagner's musical language was so revolutionary that anyone using it would sound like an imitator. In fact, Debussy, Chausson's friend, criticized it for being too Wagnerian and made several musical suggestions to Chausson, which he incorporated, so that when Debussy's Pelleas was completed, there were some passages in common with "Arthus".

Apart from the overture, which is somewhat corny, the opera is fabulous. The love duet/scene at the end of act one between Lancelot and Guenievre (French for Guinevere) is stunning. It is for this scene specifically that this Armin Jordan "Arthus" is strongly recommended over the Leon Botstein Chausson: Le Roi Arthus recording. Teresa Zylis-Gara was in her prime and has a rich sumptuous sound from each hair-raising forte to each delicate pianissimo.
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I don't have too many disagreements with Mr Wolansky's review. I don't think he should have stressed his view of the Overture as "corny" and "pompous", which is after all a musical judgement and therefore subject to rebuttal - I happen to find it exciting and perfectly fitted to the festivities which inaugurate the first scene. If there is anything corny in the opera, it would have to be the final scene, which sounds (not through any fault of Chausson) like Walt Disney, the triangle announcing the violins' ascent into heaven. But you see, this is my opinion; and musical appreciation thrives on matters of taste - even the best educated. For me the true highlight of the opera is the infinitely sad farewell to Lancelot, a very brief and deeply affecting funeral march of about 2 minutes' duration. I would keep the set for this scene alone.
However, Mr W is correct in stressing that this is a thoroughly Wagnerian opera. Although the plot is taken out of the Legend of the Round Table, its form almost duplicates that of Tristan and Isolde - the lovers' tryst at night, the discovery, the cuckolded husband etc. The subject matters being so closely related, tends to stress the imitative factor. And Chausson lean uncomfortably close at times on Wagner's libretto, e.g. the scene of Lyonel, which might not have been written without this precedent. I don't recall anything like it from Malory. Plainly these issues are responsible for the opera's underappreciation over the best part of a century.
This is the risk any buyer would have to face: can you stand an imitation of Tristan, even if it's as well done as here? My personal answer is yes; but only because I close my eyes to the many obvious duplications and concentrate on the authentic voice of the music, i.e.
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