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5.0 out of 5 stars A full-blooded, beautifully sung version of Massenet's lachrymose melodrama, 17 May 2014
Nat Whilk (Lincolnshire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Massenet: Werther (Audio CD)
It's not often that you come across an opera recording without a single weak link, but I think that this might be one of them. Robert Lloyd, Thomas Allen, Isobel Buchanan and Frederica von Stade are all in very good form, and Jose Carreras's golden voice is in the high summer of its beauty. The orchestra of Covent Garden, under the familiar baton of Colin Davis, are at their 1980s best.

This is a studio recording, but the dramatic conviction with which it depicts Massenet's tragic romantic quadrangle is as potent as you would hope to experience in a theatre. This presumably reflects the fact that the recording was made shortly after a series of performances at the Royal Opera House featuring an almost identical cast.

The opera was taped towards the end of the analogue era, but Philips's engineering was excellent. Indeed, in the year that it was released, this set won Gramophone magazine's annual award for sound quality. The only fly in the ointment is that digital remastering exposes some brief, unwelcome vocal contributions from the conductor.

How high or low this version stands in the Werther catalogue is a question for someone with greater expertise than mine. For what it's worth, I feel that it might have been even better if it were slightly more restrained. It's certainly very passionate. But Werther is unusual in Massenet's oeuvre for the violence of its emotion, and it could be argued that Colin Davis's no-holds-barred approach is just what the score demands.
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Massenet: Werther
Massenet: Werther by José Carreras (Audio CD - 2012)
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