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Customer Review

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect, but pretty good, 11 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: Les Misérables Live! Dream the Dream 2010 Cast Album (25th Anniversary) (Audio CD)
I've been a fan of Les Mis for many years and own 7 cast recordings in 3 languages. This is not a perfect recording, but it is very good and I was pleasantly surprised by it.

The Good:

It is a live recording, which I feel is less sterile than a studio recording, but some might be distracted by the enthusiastic audience and the slight distant quality that comes with it. It's also the only recording in English with the post-1997 changes and the new orchestrations (of which I am a fan, myself).

In terms of the cast, John Owen-Jones alone is worth the price of admission. The man is a legend and this is the only legal recording of his Valjean available. He lives up to the reputation.

Katie Hall's Cosette has a very sweet voice, and is never shrill, unlike in some other recordings. Cosette is a difficult character to make likable, but she is lovely here.

Gareth Gates (Marius) is the big surprise in this album for me. He is not Michael Ball, but he is a capable singer and a good fit for Marius, definitely a better fit than Nick Jonas was in the 25th anniversary concert. He comes off as very young and naive, and I find him endearing.

Earl Carpenter starts off as a good Javert, not standing out particularly, but not completely botching it. Then he gets to the barricade, gets angry, and I love him to bits.

The ensemble, Les Amis de l'ABC in particular, are all very enthusiastic and really shine.

The Bad and the Boring:

Madalena Alberto as Fantine and Rosalind James as Eponine have very "pop" voices and a tendency to slide their notes. James in particular just sounds out of place in this sort of musical and makes some odd choices in emphasis. Alberto is still a decent Fantine, but James is one my least favourite Eponines.

Ashley Artus as Thenardier has a very gravelly, serious Thenardier, which isn't inherently bad, but he has little charm. Lynn Wilmot as Mme Thenardier doesn't stand out particularly.

Jon Robyns as Enjolras simply doesn't have that commanding quality in his voice that Enjolras requires. There are moments when he grasps it for a moment, then has to belt a high note and it is lost.

Overall:

This is not the definitive Les Miserables, but it is a good album with a strong cast (for the most part) and I can recommend it to both new fans and veterans. If you only want one recording, I'd instead go for the 1995 Tenth Anniversary Concert, but if you want to try something different (or you want the wonderful John Owen-Jones), this recording is very, very good.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 20 Sep 2014 11:50:53 BDT
Yi-Peng says:
It's funny that I liked this Les Mis recording from the get go. It just streaked past the pioneer versions (up to the Albert Hall anniversary version) to become my preferred choice. I found that this recording literally screamed commitment, conviction and grit in the performances. No weak links, just strong singing and acting from all concerned. I know I was unhappy with a number of cuts, but at least the cuts don't amount up to big annoyances.

I was particularly taken by Owen-Jones's portrayal of Valjean. He made the part his own and occasionally tipped his hat to Colm Wilkinson's portrayals. I would say that Owen-Jones is streets ahead of Gary Morris on the symphonic version. I liked what Earl Carpenter did with the part of Inspector Javert. And I liked how Madalena Alberto offered a new side to Fantine - a proud side that shows her willing to stand up even though the factory sacked her.
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