Magazine article Gramophone

Les Troyens

Magazine article Gramophone

Les Troyens

Article excerpt

Les Troyens

Susan Graham mez Dido Gregory Kunde ten Aeneas Anna Caterina Antonacci sopCassandra Ludovic Tezier bar Choroebus Renata Pokupic contr Anna Laurent Naouri bass Narbal Nicolas Teste bass Pantheus Stephanie d'Oustrac mez Ascanius Mark Padmore ten lopas Topi Lehtipuu ten Hylas Helenus Monteverdi Choir; Theatre du Chatelet Chorus, Paris; Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique/Sir John Eliot Gardiner Stage director Yannis Kokkos Video dinctor Peter Maniura

Opus Arte DVD OA0900D (5h 12' * NTSC * S/s/N * 16:9' PCM Stereo, DTS S.1 * 0) Recorded live. Includes documentary, cast gallery

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Les Troyens hasn't fared well on DVD. James Levine's 1983 Metropolitan Opera version (available only in the US) does feature Placido Domingo, Jessye Norman and Tatiana Troyanos, no less, but in a dismally inadequate staging. Hugh Canning aptly crucified the mediocre Salzburg production conducted by Cambreling, with Deborah Polaski ill-advisedly taking both leads. Now, though, we have a superb authentic-instrument performance from the Theatre du Chatelet. Paris in October 2003, to equal Sir Colin Davis's pioneering original.

Orchestrally it's everything we ve come to expect from Gardiner's Berlioz, his tempi swift and dynamic, sharing the composer s delight in complex rhythmic interplay, yet always propelling the drama. Not at the cost of eliding detail, though; passages like Andromache's entrance and Hector's ghost have their proper gravitas and sombre hues against the brighter shades of Carthage. Colour, indeed, is the great gift of the period instruments, revealing a much wider range of sonorities and creating a sense of freshness and discovery. Some passages stand out--the chilling rasp of the brass in the Laocoon narration, the exciting saxhorns in the Royal Hunt--but the effect is universal: sometimes rawer, sometimes more classical, echoing Gluck and Spontini, but almost always more complex than the homogenised modern sound, and even more dramatic.

Gardiner's singers, too, could hardly be more committed. Anna Caterina Antonacci, Glyndebourne's fiery Ermione in 1995, is an even more fiery Cassandra, superbly classical-looking and so wrung and tormented that some moments of strain scarcely matter. …

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