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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gounod - Faust, 8 Sep 2011
This review is from: Gounod - Faust (Audio CD)
I did some research and it seems that popular opinion has this as the definitive recording of Faust. The performance is great but a word of warning that it does sound its age, if that would annoy you don't buy it, if not it's a great purchase.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super-duper!, 19 Aug 2010
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Mr. R. D. M. Kirby "Dick Kirby" (Suffolk, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gounod - Faust (Audio CD)
I don't think I've come across the `Brilliant' label before, but no matter; this is a corker of a set of discs. The cast is phenomenal and I don't think it could be bettered; with Gedda as Faust and Christoff as Mephistopheles singing Á moi les plaisirs, plus De Los Angeles as Marguerite singing Un bouquet! Dieu! Que de bijoux! before she becomes finally, suitably penitent.

These three musical heavyweights are suitably aided and abetted by Jean Borthayre and Martha Angelici as Valentin and Siebel respectively, and they, together with the Choeurs de l'Opéra National de Paris give a tremendous rendering of Déposons les armes!

The Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Paris sweeps right along under the baton, expertly wielded by André Cluytens and I think the trick is, don't try to agonise or theorise about who meant what about the book, the libretto, the music or anything else - just sit back and enjoy the whole opera.

Brilliant!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Singing in Principal Roles, Good Work in Secondary Parts and Conducting, Scrappy Choral Singing & Orchestral Playing, 19 July 2009
By 
Gerald Parker "Gerald Parker" (Rouyn-Noranda, QC., Dominion of Canada) - See all my reviews
This live recording of Gounod's perennial favourite, "Faust", has come out on several CD labels which perpetuate this 26 February 1953 New Orleans performance. The earliest one seems to be Legato Classics (LCD-167, 2 compact discs), the others being on the Walhall and Great Opera Performances (also know simply by the initials, G.P.O.) labels. There is no other complete recording, live or otherwise, of "Faust" with the great tenor, Richard Tucker, in the title role. That is unfortunate, perhaps, since the orchestra (attributed, although not so identified by the Legato Classics release, to the New Orleans Symphony, the predecessor to the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra) and the chorus are rather far from being of the calibre of the principal soloists. And what a cast it is!: Richard Tucker (tenor), as already mentioned, as Faust, Victoria de los Ángeles (soprano) as Marguérite, and Nicola Moscona (bass) as Méphistophéles.

Even the secondary roles are respectably cast. Henri Noel takes the baritone role of Valentin without notable tonal splendour, perhaps, but sings with technical assurance and musicality. Cecilia Ward is sweetly touching in the soprano travesti role of Marguérite's faithful swain Siébel. Maria Mayhoff amusingly portrays the mezzo-soprano role of Marthe in all of that duenna's old-maid feminine foolishness. Don Bernard sings the baritone role of Wagner (in some productions named Brander).

Still, one longs to hear Richard Tucker in the title role in the setting of a more prestigious venue, such as the Metropolitan Opera, with its suprerior orchestra and chorus, an house for which Tucker did sing Faust a number of times between 1948 and 1958. Alas, performances that starred Tucker in such stellar productions do not seem to have survived as recordings. Tucker did sing an excerpt from "Faust" now and then, here and there, such as an exquisitely lovely one for a rather early studio-recorded mono R.C.A. Victor LP operatic recital, and the 1964 "Salut demeure, chaste et pure" for television in 1964 (in a short video mounted several times on YouTube's WWW site). In those, Tucker sings with more delicacy than he sang the entire role in New Orleans. Nevertheless, to have singing so splendidly refulgent in tone allied to such lyricism of delivery is to be treasured, however and wherever one encounters Tucker's Faust!

Victoria de los Ángeles is exquisite as Marguérite, her singing girlishly alluring and technically impeccable, including perfect trills and brilliantly accurate coloratura. She really was alive to every dramatic nuance of the role, suggesting Marguérite's various moods of maidenly innocence, temptation, ecstatic romance, and, after her downfall, of tragic poignancy. Hers is a Marguérite nearly impossible to top, but, thankfully, recordings of de los Ángeles' Marguérite survive elsewhere, with better orchestral and choral support, notably in her two studio recordings of the role, first (as initially released on LP discs in North America) for R.C.A. Victor and then for Capitol/E.M.I. Thus, for celebrity vocalism's sake, this New Orleans performance really is primarily for fans of Tucker and of Moscona.

Nicola Moscona, the Greek-American bass, is, indeed, the "trump card" of this live recording! His Méphistophéles is a marvel! The "wooliness" that so often afflicted his singing tone is little in evidence on this New Orleans occasion, and, to these ears at least, Moscona sounds more vivid and vibrant in this performance than his singing more famously under Toscanini's leadership ever would suggest to be possible. Moscona's Méphisto is dramatically as well as vocally vivid, wily, seductive (as in his comic wooing of Marthe in the Garden Scene), threatening (as only Satan can be thus utterly!), and all the rest. Moscona's Méphistophéles alone would be ample reason to acquire this recording, but, then, there are, so rewardingly, Tucker and de los Ángeles as well! One suspects that Tucker sang the role a bit more off-handedly (but still with considerable vocal potentency) than he did so in New York or in other front-rank opera houses, "slumming it" in New Orleans, as it were, whereas for Moscona, this New Orleans performance was a great opportunity for him to show an audience just how fine a singing actor he really could be! Moscona's stage laugh is wickedly infectious, perhaps a sign of just how much the bass was dramatically involved, and enjoying himself, in his exuberently spirited performance.

Walter Herbert conducts the performance, with a lot more visceral excitement than was often typical of his work in San Francisco or elsewhere. He certainly does not appear to have given the orchestra and chorus any occasion to wallow relaxedly in their provincial (but respectable) mediocrity. Actually, the orchestra for the most part plays quite well, especially the lower strings, winds, and brass. The problem lies throughout the performance with the violin sections, where orchestral weakness so frequently reveals itself most readily, as in any rendition of a work that requires such instrumental forces. The beautifully perfumed, evocative music of the eventful Garden Scene of Act Three, which Gounod orchestrated so beautifully, suffers the most from lack of consistently skillful orchestral playing. If this really is the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra, a bit too undersized (at least as deployed for the occasion) to rise to the challenging demands of Gounod's rich orchestral scoring for "Faust", that ensemble had a ways to progress before its upper strings would become those of the Lousiana Philharmonic Orchestra, into which the N.O.S.O. later morphed. This recording of "Faust" is, for sure, of a performance in the theatre, obvious from the moderate amount of stage noise, and by no means of some concert performance of an opera as part of a symphony orchestra's season.

The inclusion of "Walpurgis Night" dance music (often omitted in stage productions or even on many studio recordings) gives an extended display of the orchestra's strengths and shortcomings. However, the playing of the first and second violins is minimally adequate, if not much more than that, and the orchestra by no means could be said to be really scandalously insufficient to the task before it. One of the best instrumental moments in this orchestra's playing, due to the N.O.S.O.'s fine lower string sections, is the brooding, hulking presence that the lower strings create at the bleak opening of the opera, where Gounod's compositional skill is redolent of the sinuously gloomy colour and melodic profile of Luigi Cherubini's orchestral writing at that composer's most dramatially and musically sombre. As for the chorus, which in Gounod's opera has lots to do, it holds up its end of things decently, with lively collective involvement in the action, although its male singers do sound rather callow and choral intonation goes too jarringly astray at times.

If the Amazon user reading these lines has a strong devotion to Richard Tucker's singing, he should obtain this recording, despite the limitations of the ensemble forces in this performance. Those setting out to discover Richard Tucker's singing for the first time, however, should obtain other recordings which feature this fine singer at his stylishly musicodramatic best, for example, his recording (in English) of Mozart's "Così fan tutte", the earlier of his two commercial recordings of Verdi's "Aida" (the one under Toscanini's direction), several of his "recorded recitals" of arias and/or songs, his towering recorded live performances of Halévy's "La Juive" and of Meyerbeer's "L'Africaine" (in Italian, as "L'Africana"), his cantorial recordings of Jewish liturgical music, and others of his recordings of similarly monumental stature. Nobody, though, is likely to find that he has wasted his money in purchasing this recorded performance of Gounod's "Faust"!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Faust of a different color, 2 Jun 2005
By 
L. E. Cantrell (Vancouver, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gounod: Faust (Audio CD)
This is a great conductor's perfectly plausible performance which just happens to sound wrong. Wrong, that is, in comparison with every subsequent recording and just about every subsequent performance. It seems too cool, too bland. It strives for too much . . . elegance.
What it most singularly lacks is a howling, roaring, spitting Mephistopheles--that very Russian snarler of the Chaliapin-type who industriously and entertainingly tears every passion to tatters. While that sort of roaring demon is wholly appropriate for Boito's Italianate take on the story, I am inclined to think it is not what the very French Gounod had in mind.
Gounod's "Faust" is not Goethe's philosophical redemption story but a seduction story--not that of Marguerite by Faust, indeed, but of Faust by Mephistopheles. If you look at the words and the musical lines and forget the familiar performances, Mephistopheles is a suave, even lyrical seducer. I believe that Gounod, on hearing this recording, might well have said, "Yes, that is what I intended."
The performing edition used by Beecham is generally a satisfactory one to my ears. After all, who really wants to hear that endless, bloodless Brocken scene ever again? However, the omission of Valentine's big song (written for the London premiere to give a bonbon to an English baritone) is a real loss, a triumph of dry musical scholarship over musical commonsense.
This is a studio recording in mono sound appropriate to its age, not bad overall.
I give this one four stars for the conductor and what I take to be its authenticity. I strongly recommend this as a second or later "Faust" to serve as an antidote to current performance practice.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Recording from the past, 1 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Gounod - Faust (Audio CD)
Great to hear singers of the calibre of Nicolai Gedda, de los Angeles and Christoff. Digital remastering of this 1953 recording is pretty good.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Value, 24 Feb 2012
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This review is from: Gounod - Faust (Audio CD)
Bought the CD set having just watched a production of Faust. There are a number of different variations of Faust which not always have all the pieces or the order of pieces are altered. Was pleased this version matched the production.Quality was good.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cream of Singers, 13 Mar 2009
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This review is from: ANDRCD 5037 - DELETED (Audio CD)
Of course no serious buff would say that Gounod's 'Faust' is a great opera, especially when compared to Berlioz's Damnation of Faust. It belittles Goethe's play, rather in the manner of Rossini's Otello (with its happy ending). However this is an opera that uses Goethe's play to create something else: an opera and no matter what liberties are percieved to be taken, that fact cannot be disputed.

I would say that Gounod's version is an equal to Berlioz and both are superior to Boito's. But what can really make an opera great is the cast.

And what a cast we have here. Peerce is in magnificent voice. He sounds like a French tenor. Every moment of his singing is to be treasured. Along with Bjoerling, Peerce was, IMHO, the greatest tenor ever recorded. One need only hear the recordings of the Toscanini Verdi boxed set to realise thisThe Verdi Recordings [Box Set] .

The outstanding voice of de los Angeles as Marguerite (a favoured role)and Siepi as Mephistopheles (on this recording, an equal to Christoff and that is saying somethingGounod: Faust)provide the listener with over 2 1/2 hours of pure heaven.

It takes a cast like this to make one realise what an outstanding opera Faust is.

The sound quality is not brilliant, but it is as good as the Verdi recordings of Toscanini . The audience intrude, and this can be a little off-putting, but who can blame them?

A beautiful CD set that has very little information about the actual event and no synopsis or libretto. Perhaps the label's personel felt that the recording speaks for itself.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soaring perfection, 10 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Gounod - Faust (Audio CD)
Highly recommended because music that transcends the mundane and lightens your day is to be treasured. This version is now historic; it is still outstanding.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beecham is certainly the drawcard here., 5 Oct 2001
By 
John Austin "austinjr@bigpond.net.au" (Kangaroo Ground, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gounod: Faust (Audio CD)
Naxos deserve the gratitude of opera lovers for re-issuing Beecham's recording from the late 1940s of Gounod's opera "Faust" at super budget price. Beecham was a great champion of this opera. He recorded it twice. This latter recording appeared towards the end of the 78s era and has been generally neglected ever since. Critics and reviewers have occasionally referred to it, citing the fact that Beecham displayed his usual uncanny feel for the right spirit and right letter of the score, perceptions which subsequent conductors have sometimes lacked.
Beecham is certainly the great drawcard here. Rarely has the orchestral part of the score sounded so brilliant. He draws fine work from the Royal Philharmonic Chorus too, achieving wonderful swagger and excitement in the choruses that open Act 2 and the second scene of Act 4. Of the singers, their primary claim is that they are all native French exponents of their roles, all but the one who sings the small part of Martha. Georges Noré is generally satisfactory as Faust, confidant and assured vocally in his big aria but later miss-hitting a few notes in the Garden Scene. The baritone Roger Bourdin commands attention and admiration, even though his aria (added by Gounod after the original production of the opera) is omitted from this recording. The same cannot be said for Geori Boué as Margeurite. The joys and sorrows of Margeurite's life don't seem to involve her as an actress and the thrilling moments of the Jewel Song and the final Trio don't seem to interest her as a singer. As for Roger Rico as Mephistofeles, he is far too bland and genial. We must be able to hear the hidden, sinister, devilish dimension in the singer of this role, but Rico never provides it.
Ward Marston's transfers bring everything that can be heard well forward and comfortably audible, Keith Anderson provides a brief but occasionally inelegant synopsis, track by track, in the accompanying booklet, the ballet music is not here, and the playing time is 137 minutes.
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