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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Sheherazade
Well, after all these years, Crespin's Scheherazade still leads the field. Her voice is absolutely right for this cycle, from the glorious moment in the first song, when the orchestra erupts at her third cry of "Asie!", to the wonderfully enigmatic and ambivalent tone she adopts for the final song "L'Indifferent". She is superbly seconded by Ansermet and the...
Published on 29 Sept. 2007 by Tsaraslondon

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Famous - but over-rated
I'll risk being shot down in flames for criticising this much-reviewed and often-praised version of Berlioz' wonderful song cycle and Ravel's "Sheherazade" (plus other Poulenc songs not much to my taste). I really do not think it is as good as some say and I am heartened to find that David Cairns - as famous and trustworthy a critic of the voice as you can get - agrees...
Published on 8 Jan. 2008 by Ralph Moore


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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Sheherazade, 29 Sept. 2007
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This review is from: Regine Crespin (Audio CD)
Well, after all these years, Crespin's Scheherazade still leads the field. Her voice is absolutely right for this cycle, from the glorious moment in the first song, when the orchestra erupts at her third cry of "Asie!", to the wonderfully enigmatic and ambivalent tone she adopts for the final song "L'Indifferent". She is superbly seconded by Ansermet and the Suisse-Romande Orchestra.There have been may excellent versions of this cycle, but Crespin's air of suave sophistication is perfectly suited to it, as it is to the Poulenc songs with piano included on this reissue. So why only 4 stars? Well, I know this is going against the grain, but I have never found this version of "les Nuits d'Ete" as satisfactory as it's coupling. Crespin's civilised, cool singing, to my mind, never engages with the songs as deeply as do singers such as Baker (with either Barbirolli or Giulini), De Los Angeles, Eleanor Steber and, more recently, Brigitte Bailleys. Contrary to the previous review here, I find no "hush and trembling anticipation" in "Le Spectre de la Rose", but rather find the rose's arrival from paradise somewhat earthbound. Any of the other singers I mentioned sing with greater abandon and radiance. The most successful of the songs is the final "L'Ile Inconnue", in which she finds just the right mixture of the playful and the passionate. That said, this is a disc I would never want to be without. Sheherazade alone makes it a must for any library.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Regine Crespin proves only the French can sing this repertoire, 8 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Regine Crespin (Audio CD)
Of course some fine singers have attempted the Nuits d'ete, but it is not just a matter of the voice. The brain behind the sung line has to be French to capture the style and the atmosphere of Berlioz's music and just as importantly, Gautier's ravishingly beautiful, ever so decadent poetry.
Born in Marseilles, trained in the great school of Brussels (as was Rita Gorr, another great singer - hear her in Samson with Jon Vickers on EMI) supreme diva in Paris. Look no further for the ultimate interpretation of this work and the accompanying Ravel. Ansermet and the Suisse Romande (the strings heavily over miked as was the Decca way with this orchestra) support is again authentically French and and in total sympathy with the soloist and music.

Those who carp about Crespin's wayward interpretation should listen to the last verse of Absence, where words and music are combined in singing of profound emotional depth worthy of Gautier's poetry. Unfortunately, we are robbed of Frank Patterson's, the "light" Irish tenor's interpretation on the Colin Davis version. Patterson is anything but "light"!

The key to successful performance is recognising the orchestrated song as a song and not half way towards a concert aria. The voice should be used instrumentally following a clear arching melodic line with the utmost smoothness and clear meaningful ennunciation of the words. Gautier's lyrics and the overall sensibility is undoubtedly the finest in the whole literature of the orchestral song. To my mind Crespin, Pollet, and Patterson are the only singers I have come across who can do justice to that.

Berlioz's exquisite delicate orchestration (even Mahler is crude by comparison!) is another factor....

I have now given up looking for an ideal version of this iconic summit of L'art Lyrique and have assembled my "own" performance from available recorded versions, as follows:
1. Villanelle Frank Patterson (Colin Davis/Philips)
2. Le Spectre de la Rose Francoise Pollet (NOTE! with Sanderling, Orch. Bretagne/Arion 2003)
3. Sue la Lagune Regine Crespin (I could easily go with Crespin in 2 also! Ansermet/Decca)
4. Absence Crespin (Ansermet/Decca)
5. Au cimetiere (Clair de Lune) Frank Patterson (Davis/Philips)
6. L'ile inconnue Regine Crespin
Of all the competing versions available only of Francoise Pollet could one say she could do it as lying within her expressive range and vocal resources, but her two recorded versions (I personally prefer the one with Stefan Sanderling and the Orchestre de Bretagne) sound a tad over wrought and laboured compared with the divine Crespin. They do however knock the likes of Baker and Steber into a corner. One sounds like an English matron, the other has a declamatory style that soon wears out the listener's ear drums. Both are tedious performances, especially the Steber, poorly recorded. The Victoria de Los Angeles performance is that of a girl not a woman.
Finally, if you do purchase this CD there is the EMI DVD of Crespin in recital, which includes, among fine lieder singing, an excerpt from the Berlioz cycle, Le spectre de la rose. This is the vocal art as it should be and once heard provides the measure by which all other performances must be judged!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unparalleled berlioz, 23 Dec. 2006
By 
hillbank68 "almac1975" (Fife, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Regine Crespin (Audio CD)
The Crespin version of 'Nuits d'Ete', old as it is, is as good as you can get in quite a strongly competitive field. She had a big and very beautiful voice and an ability to project the line and words of a song quite rivetingly, especially in French repertoire. She makes the 'Nuits' sound like the most beautiful orchestral song-cycle ever written ; maybe it is! The hush and trembling anticipation in 'La Spectre de la Rose' have to be heard to be believed. Equally, her voice was agile and flexible where necessary, so the livelier songs are just as good. The recording is excellent and the accompaniment good. The other songs are equally well served, and there should be no hesitation in sampling this CD. It is quite an event.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Famous - but over-rated, 8 Jan. 2008
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Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Regine Crespin (Audio CD)
I'll risk being shot down in flames for criticising this much-reviewed and often-praised version of Berlioz' wonderful song cycle and Ravel's "Sheherazade" (plus other Poulenc songs not much to my taste). I really do not think it is as good as some say and I am heartened to find that David Cairns - as famous and trustworthy a critic of the voice as you can get - agrees with me in "Song on Record", edited by Alan Blyth. First of all, Crespin is often rather imperious and detached in manner; secondly, the essential tone of her voice is not either perfectly pure or steady: it often has a rather strained, scratchy, grainy or gritty quality which is not at all pleasing when compared with the warmth and roundness of singers such as Janet Baker, Eleanor Steber or Frederica Von Stade. All bring more emotion and beauty of tone to their interpretations; Steber's performance, in particular, is transcendent. I bought this record in great expectation and ultimately gave it away because I found I did not want to listen to it when I could hear those other artists. So there; I'll stick my neck out and say caveat emptor; listen before you buy, and if you like her - well, fine, but I'd recommend several performances before this one and I speak as one who loves great voices and thinks this the finest of all song cycles.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Super CD. Do add it to your collection., 28 Mar. 2015
By 
Eric Rooney "E.R." (Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Regine Crespin (Audio CD)
Another all time great CD for my collection. What a ravishing voice? Never tire of hearing this disc.Many thanks.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 14 April 2015
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This review is from: Regine Crespin (Audio CD)
Superb voice.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed up, 13 April 2011
I only needed a couple of the songs, but Sur les Lagoons and Absence are the wrong way round on this set - so beware!
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