10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Berlioz: La Damnation de Faust - LSO Live, Colin Davis,
By A Customer
This review is from: La Damnation De Faust (LSO, Davis) (Audio CD)
What has happened to Sir Colin since 1973? This new Faust is rather more of a curate's egg than I was expecting. Yes, there is the usual sense of over-arching structure, and the close understanding of Berlioz's innovative orchestration. There is lightness of touch where it is needed, and, despite the dry accoustic, there is great and well-separated orchetral sound. Why gripe, then? Two reasons. Firstly, it would help enormously if some of the soloists had at least a passing acquaintance with French pronunciation - Marguerite especially is at times incomprehensible, at others farcical. This really detracts from the interpretation of this magnificent piece. My second gripe concerns the tempi, especially as the piece draws to its conclusion. I found myself getting bored by the slow tempi - I mean ponderous, as though very tired, without energy, and I had the impression that some of the soloists found them quite challenging too! Perhaps Sir Colin was trying to add extra gravitas or emotional intensity, but I'm afraid I found the speeds in much of the second disc too expansive. I'm not saying that the other extreme (Solti) is the appropriate line to take, but this piece needs energy, drive, and forward momentum, and it was this latter aspect that I found most wanting. All this is quite surprising, because I have Sir Colin's Berlioz recordings of the 1970's, and they are all absolutely terrific. So, if you want a really good Faust, go to Sir Colin's 1973 recording for Philips, with Nicolai Gedda in the title role - now there is a performance!