Buy Used
Used - Like New See details
Price: £21.18

or
 
   
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Available to Download Now
 
Buy the MP3 album for £11.99
 
 
 
 
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Colour:
Image not available

 

Gluck: Alceste [Live]

MVC, Anne Sofie Von Otter, E. Dumm Kopf BS Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.


Buy the MP3 album for £11.99 at the Amazon Digital Music Store.


Amazon Artist Stores

All the music, full streaming songs, photos, videos, biographies, discussions, and more.
.

Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed


Product details

  • Performer: Anne Sofie von Otter, Paul Groves, Yann Beuron, Ludovic Tézier, Nicolas Testé, et al.
  • Orchestra: English Baroque Soloists, Monteverdi Choir
  • Conductor: John Eliot Gardiner
  • Composer: Christoph Willibald Gluck
  • Audio CD (9 Sep 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Live
  • Label: Philips
  • ASIN: B000068VL1
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 237,528 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

Product Description

BBC Review

Despite being a watershed between baroque and classical opera - and a major influence on Mozart, Berlioz and even Wagner -Gluck (1714-87) is still best known today for one opera. Orfeo ed Euridice might be a masterpiece but it's one that has tended to overshadow his other fine achievements.

With this recording of Alceste, Sir John Eliot Gardiner redresses the balance and restores the most neglected of Gluck's great operas to its rightful place in the musical canon. The English conductor and early music specialist offers a reading of blistering psychological intensity and first-rate musical integrity. He also plugs an important gap on disc; the only other available recording of the 1776 Paris version of Alceste is 20 years old and features a musically marvellous but theatrically disengaged Jessye Norman in the title role.

Gardiner turns the full beam of his historically informed performance knowledge to the score, illuminating its subtle colours and harmonic inflections with a pace and power that never threaten to become too far, too fast. He's superbly abetted by mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, whose perceptive performance as Alceste is one of emotional sincerity and spot-on vocal accuracy.

There's not a weak link in the supporting cast, either, with the English Baroque Soloists providing a sympathetic cushion on which rest Dietrich Henschel's stirring and strong High Priest and American tenor Paul Groves' youthful and refined Admète. The Monteverdi Choir is equally impressive in its role as chorus.

It's all the more impressive as a recording for being taken live from recent concert performances at London's Barbican Centre.

Gluck is a pivotal figure in opera - not just because of the number of operas he wrote (more than 40) but because of the way he balanced the musical and dramatic elements of the form. Those latter qualities couldn't be better illustrated than in this fine Philips set. Highly recommended. --Andrew McGregor

Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window


Customer Reviews

4 star
0
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
5.0 out of 5 stars
5.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alceste brought back from the dead 27 Oct 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).
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE MAN IS A GREAT MASTER 3 Sep 2006
By DAVID BRYSON TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
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.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alceste brought back to life 22 Oct 2002
By Kicek&Brys - Published on Amazon.com
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). Those two operas, as was the fashion in the Baroque, severely complicated the basic story by the addition of extra characters and subplots. Gluck's drama is astonishingly simple and direct. Though it has plot similarities with "Orfeo", the form and mood are totally different. "Alceste" is very French with its chorus and dance ensembles. The drama is more compact than "Orfeo", the orchestration more sombre. There are no beautiful Elysian fields for Alcestis. The scene when she waits to be sacrificed to the gods of the underworld in the growing twilight is both terrifying and moving in a way that prefigures early Romanticism.
Nevertheless, perhaps partly because of its generally dark scoring and dramatic concentration, "Alceste" does run the risk of monotony in the wrong hands. The problem with its lack of popularity might have been the fact that previous recordings have done little to dispel the idea, as the Penguin Guide puts it, that in Gluck `beautiful' means `boring'. Gluck is seen as Neo-Classical so his operas are often performed as if they were as cold as lifeless as Neo-Classical statues. As Gardiner realizes, the secret of Gluck's reforms was simple: he wanted to make opera dramatic once more. Gardiner's conducting is anything but tame. He pays great attention to every orchestral detail to prevent the merest hint of monotony. You certainly won't fall asleep during this performance. Some reviewers, such as the `Gramophone' critic Stanley Sadie, used to the more sedate Gluck performing tradition, have blanched at this, but I love it. It is certainly far superior to the overpraised Naxos recording of the Italian version under Arnold Oestman. But perhaps the true test of this opera is Alceste herself. Teresa Ringholtz is by far the best thing about the Oestman recording. She has a fine, delicate voice but she is no competition for Anne Sofie von Otter on Gardiner. Just compare them in the famous aria "Ombre,Larve"/"Ombres, Larves". Admittedly Ringholtz isn't helped by the lack of presence in the Naxos recording which sounds pallid and scratchy, almost mono. By contrast Gardiner's orchestra is blazingly present and von Otter matches his interpretation in power. She sounds almost like Beethoven's Leonore (and indeed the role of Alceste is a clear predecessor of the heroine of "Fidelio" who saves her husband from the living death of prison). Again compare the arias "Non, vi tormenti" (Italian version) with "Ah, divinites" (its French counterpart). Ringholtz is fragile and touching, von Otter is noble and utterly heartbreaking.
As for the other roles, Paul Groves makes a fine Admete in spite of his often uncertain French. He manages to make his character sound noble, rather than spineless, as is so often the case. Dieter Henschel sings both the High Priest and Hercules. He is rather more successful in the former role since his Hercules is good but not vocally muscular enough. But it is the heroine and the conductor who really count in this opera and von Otter and Gardiner are unbeatable. They have managed to transform this opera from one I left to gather dust on my shelves into one I listen to again and again.(Brys)
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gardiner is great 21 Feb 2003
By Mark A. Whitenack - Published on Amazon.com
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!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE MAN IS A GREAT MASTER 3 Sep 2006
By DAVID BRYSON - Published on Amazon.com
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. It is more a sense of continuity, with no long silences between the numbers but overture leading to recitative leading to chorus leading to aria with a fluency that Wagner himself might have admired. Inevitably, there is a price to be paid for this, and how each of us responds to this approach will depend, I'd say, on whether we think the price worth it. The price is that the big set pieces (for which read arias to all intents here) are less highlighted than in other types of production. No doubt Jessye Norman and Nicolai Gedda `make more' of their big solos, and that is partly because they are given more of the `tableau' treatment. Whether one can have it both ways I would not like to try to say. What I will say is that I know Anne Sofie von Otter from her fine and spirited recitals of Schumann, Grieg and Chaminade. She is a powerful singer and a powerful personality, and if she doesn't attempt to be particularly dominant in this instance that makes perfect sense to me considering the role she is given to sing, which is not Clytemnestra or Medea but the devoted and submissive Alcestis. Furthermore, arias are not even particularly frequent in this opera until the third act, where they fit naturally into place as Alcestis and Admetus confront each other at the gates of Hades. In the earlier acts too many arias would have interrupted the dramatic flow, and I hear the way von Otter interprets her role as being part and parcel of Gardiner's overall concept.

Whether or not this is the way one likes it, it would be hard to accuse this production of inconsistency. Paul Groves is a lightish tenor rather than a Heldentenor, and that, I suppose, is likely another reason for the way von Otter goes about her contribution. One would know he was not French, but he handles that aspect of the matter not badly. In general the singing is extremely distinct and professional, and this is particularly important in the case of the chorus, whose part is easily as big as that of either of the principals. There are some very effective `whispers' from the chorus of citizens at one point, and the divinities of the Styx are as effective as Gluck allows them to be. I certainly feel he should have made more effort here - to argue, as apparently he did, that nobody knows what the gods of the underworld sound like is just flannel: they are totally imaginary beings anyway, and Gluck might have exerted his own imagination.

Editorially, I think the production is excellent. Patricia Howard contributes a scholarly but readable preface, and Gardiner himself is absolutely fascinating as he takes us through the practical and conceptual issues surrounding the performance. Gluck was emphatically better at the vision-thing than he was at the fine detail. His autograph scores are a frightful mess, an absolute dog's dinner, and I appreciate Gardiner's candour in letting us into his decision processes for dealing with the ambiguities and other shortcomings. In particular he gives proper recognition to the loving and tactful editorial suggestions made by Berlioz all that time ago. The French text is given both in full and in summary and translated into both English and German, and there is a synopsis of the plot. I did not read the English version in full, but as much of it as I did look at gave me no problems.

A decision on the right Alceste for each of us is thus not any straightforward matter. So far as I can tell, there is no getting away from taking some kind of intellectual view as to how the work should be performed. Gardiner has not shirked this, and I have tried not to misrepresent his intentions. This is not the kind of Gluck production I learned to love when I was younger, but our understanding of what made him the great master he is continues to develop and advance, and I appreciate what Gardiner has done for us in this regard.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alceste 30 Nov 2011
By Bjorn Viberg - Published on Amazon.com
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.
9 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What larvae ? 15 Jan 2003
By "nicngu" - Published on Amazon.com
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 ?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions
   


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Look for similar items by category


Feedback