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Berlioz: La Damnation de Faust

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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  • Performer: Anne Sofie von Otter, Keith Lewis, Bryn Terfel, Victor von Halem
  • Orchestra: Eton College Boys' Choir, Philharmonia Chorus
  • Conductor: Myung-Whun Chung
  • Composer: Hector Berlioz
  • Audio CD (1 Oct. 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: DG
  • ASIN: B000009ON4
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 171,696 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This really is a great recording.
The singing is strong in all parts and the recording brings out the warmth of Terfel's barriton and the dynamism of von Otter's soprano wonderfully.
Keith Lewis sings Faust well and the conducting is strong (although Davis has done it better - with weaker forces and poorer recording).
There are other, possibly cheaper, recordings of the work but none of the ones I've heard had quite the edge of this or had anything comparable to the apotheosis (with a boy singing the celestial voice) or the ride to hell.
Really, really enjoyable.
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Format: Audio CD
Hector Berlioz's "La Damnation of Faust" is very interesting and brilliant work: it's beautiful and excellent orchestrated. This recording is invincible. Bryn Telfer is splendid Mefisto, and Keith Lewis (Faust) sings beautiful voice. The Philharmonia Orchestra is very good and conductor is marvelous. I love this cd and this excellent music. I recommend!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Excellent recording with outstanding soloists, especially Keith Lewis and Anne Sofie von Otter. Berlioz sublime as ever.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8bee963c) out of 5 stars 11 reviews
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d2e86e4) out of 5 stars Wonderful music and wonderful recording 15 Jun. 2003
By dolcissima2780 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is one of my favorite CD's. The work itself is electrifying, passionate Berlioz. Lust, drama, Heaven, and Hell. In Le Damnation of Faust, you have it all! Lewis is is an excellent Faust. His voice brings out the best in Berlioz's vocal writing. von Otter is a sympathetic Marguerite. The King of Thul ballad shows off her breath-taking voice and a drammatic yet innocent presence which I had never heard in her voice before this recording. I am normally not a big fan of Terfel, but in this recording he makes the perfect, seductive, evil, and even sometimes loveable Mephistopheles. The shining star of this recording, however, is von Halem as the Brander. His rather gruff tone allows the listener to picture a grotesque, hairy, and loud drunk. von Halem is the most believable Brander I have heard. The background "bar" chorus and Mephistopheles' "Flea Song" make the Ratskeller scene wild and vulgar--just as it should be! The chorus and orchestra also do a fantastic job of creating a frightening scene as demons in Hell, as Mephistopheles triumphs at conquering Faust's soul. The work ends in a well-conducted contrast when Marguerite is called into heaven.
The orchestra and Chung are top-notch in this recording. Chung brings out the contrasts and various dimmensions in the score. Great conductor, great soloists, great orchestra and chorus...what more could you ask for?
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d2e8750) out of 5 stars Sensational 3 Dec. 2005
By Wayne A. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Something truly remarkable is happening; we're finally getting the kinds of recordings and performances of Berlioz that have been needed for years. This isn't a matter of a "new take" with Brahms or Beethoven, as we see often enough, this is a manifestation of a growing understanding of this incredibly misunderstood composer. Younger conductors are hearing the avant-garde qualities of the music and unapologetic-ally bringing out the extraordinary details. We're accepting that Berlioz knew exactly what he was doing. In a marvelous way one had to be brought through the experimentation of the last century in order to finally "get" him. Recording technology has also, and finally, reached Berliozian standards. It's as if he had been composing for us, not for his own time.

The still-brilliant, incredibly taut, Solti Faust had always been tops in my book but this version will probably supplant it in some ways. Years of listening to this exciting masterpiece and here I'm hearing imaginative details I'd never encountered before, the piece never sounded so modern. The interpretation is largely excellent, the vocalists outstanding with Terfel a brilliant Mephistopheles and von Otter great. Lewis strikes just the right note for his character. The sound is dazzling and the gut-wrenching tour of Hell can hold its own against the loudest rock. Just fantastic overall!
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d2e8a98) out of 5 stars Excellent, Dramatic Berlioz 11 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is one of the best versions available. I agree with the reviewer from Charlottesville: Terfel is excellent here. I also think von Otter is marvellous--la chanson du roi de Thule would melt your heart. The conducting is wonderful; Myung-Whun Chung organizes the performance superbly, and finds ways to integrate phrases into larger wholes (that, for example, elude Munch). Keith Lewis (Faust) is, alas, not up to the part. There are a couple of recordings of this work with good tenors. Nicolai Gedda, joined by Janet Baker and Georges Pretre, is excellent (EMI), as is Andre Turp in Monteux's BBC recording with Regine Crespin (IMG Artists). The present recording joins those two at the top of the discography. All three excell in their sopranos and the quality of chorus and orchestra, and the sensitivity and attention to detail of their conducting. All three are well recorded, though DG has the definite edge in sound quality. You rarely hear such glorious recorded sound.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d2e8ad4) out of 5 stars A very exciting Damnation de Faust 17 Nov. 1999
By J. Luis Juarez Echenique - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I think Myung Whun-Chung is the best conductor under 50, (yes much better than the much hyped Simon Rattle), and he proves it with this electrifying rendition of La Damnation de Faust. The singers are excellent too, especially Anne Sofie von Otter.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d2e8f54) out of 5 stars The best modern version 25 Sept. 2005
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I own other versions of Le Damnation de Faust by Markevitch, Colin Davis, Munch, and Solti, all of wich have their viutes. But Chung's is the best overall, boasting excellent sound with tremendous impact, the best soloists on record (although the ones on the superb Markevitch set, also on DG, sound the most French of all), and exciting conducting. Among digital versions, this one is nearly flawless.

P.S. 2011 - Returning to this excellent recording, I'm surprised to see that my review was written the first month I started posting at amazon. back then I thought that short notes would be helpful, and I wouldn't change my brief remarks. But I should have commented on Bryn Terfel's dramatic Mephisto, matched for charisma only by Thomas quasthoff in the modern era. Chung has also greatly impressed me, and with his broad experience as a Paris-based conductor, this Faust has better Gallic credentials than all but the Markevitch set, even though none of the participants is French. Keith Lewis sings quite sympathetically as Faust and is better recorded than, say, Gedda for Colin Davis. The score has been fortunate on records, and anyone who owns a reading by Munch, Davis, or even Solti (who takes a traditional grand opera approach, all stops out) will be well satisfied.
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