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Berlioz: Les Troyens [The Trojans] Box set

4.5 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

Price: £15.15 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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Product details

  • Performer: Ben Heppner, Michelle DeYoung, Petra Lang, Sara Mingardo, Peter Mattei, et al.
  • Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Sir Colin Davis
  • Composer: Hector Berlioz
  • Audio CD (9 July 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: LSO Live
  • ASIN: B000063DQA
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 90,124 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Product Description

Product Description

Sir Colin Davis's extraordinary recording of Berlioz's operatic masterpiece has captured attention all over the world, and won the highest international awards.

BBC Review

If you thought the critics had already exhausted their year's supply of superlatives on Sir Colin Davis's new Berlioz series, then the Trojans proved that the highest praise had been held back. The acclaim was fully deserved; it's rare enough to get a new recording of this epic opera, but to have it recorded live, and for a second time by perhaps the finest living interpreter of Berlioz, made this really special. Then add the fact that it's from LSO Live and it's only going to set you back £20.00 (a fiver a disc), and suddenly you can imagine that this remarkable work will find its way into the lives of a whole new audience of potential converts. About time...and the sales figures so far seem to prove that's exactly what's happening.

So what's so special about the performance? Try Canadian tenor Ben Heppner, outdoing his fellow countryman Jon Vickers on Sir Colin's first recording of Les Troyens. The other principals are very fine too; Michelle de Young unexpectedly singing the role of Didon after Olga Borodina fell ill, and Petra Lang as her last-minute replacement, rising to the occasion as a fiery prophetess. Davis's 1969 recording was the first time Berlioz's Wagnerian epic had been captured complete, but he's lived with this work for another thirty years, and it shows. And don't forget the LSO's had the same amount of time to grow with Davis, and learn to read his gestures. The playing is formidable, revelatory, and the big set-pieces have an epic sweep to them. Yes, even in the Barbican it's possible! The recording engineers have achieved another minor miracle and made us forget where the four live performances were given. The audience is spookily silent, and the only indication that this was caught on the wing is the sheer electricity coursing through every bar.

Les Troyens has always deserved this recording, and it might finally bring Berlioz's epic to the audience it deserves. Owners of the original Colin Davis Trojans for Philips shouldn't fret, but then you probably don't need to: you've already heard the buzz and bought this new recording as well, haven't you?! --Matt Fernand

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 29 Jun. 2002
Format: Audio CD
1) 5 stars for being the greatest bargain in the CD catalogue.
2) 5 stars for the absolutely outstanding quality of the gorgeous recorded sound and the inclusion of a libretto.
3) 5 stars for the extraordinarily alive, alert, active, sensitive, passionate playing of the LSO!
4) 5 stars for Sir Colin Davis for conducting such a thrilling, tender, beautiful and moving performance.
5) 5 stars for the virtuosic efforts of the singers. Heppner, especially is wonderfully dramatic and tender when necessary. And Petra Lang as Cassandra is OUTSTANDING. But the other singers all contribute at the highest level. Even Hylas' little song at the opening of Act V is handled with sensitivity and feeling by Toby Spence.
6) 5 stars, and worth the price of the entire set, for the last 20 minutes of Act IV, with the quintet, septet and duet sung with OUTRAGEOUS beauty, especially the little coda between Dido and Aeneas at the conclusion of 'Nuit d'ivresse...'. Oh wow.
7) Finally, 5 stars for LSO Live, for releasing such a quality performance, with the highest production values, at such a great price.
P.S----5 stars for Berlioz for writing such a monumental opera and then filling it with such detail and humanity.
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These CD's are a live recording of performances of Les Troyens given at the Barbican last December. I was at the Barbican on one marvellous Saturday when both parts were performed. The playing and singing then was of the highest order and this has been transferred to the CD's. Colin Davis's pacing of a score which is at one moment full of martial sounds and the next intimate music is absolutely masterful. The orchestral playing is wonderful as was the singing of the LSO Chorus. To choose one out of the cast is invidious but Petra Lang was absolutely stunning. Its a shame the endings of the acts have been re-recorded - I'm sure the long and loud cheering at the end would add to the atmosphere. An absolute must for opera fans and what a bargain!
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As someone who is wary of live recordings I would not have bought this CD if it were not for the Gramophone Award. But goodness me, how wrong can you be, the audience is so unobtrusive I can only assumed that the recording crew had them gagged and bound. This recording is absolutely splendid. I am now off to order the other Berlioz recordings on LSO Live....
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Apart from the Royal Hunt and Storm I knew nothing of this music when I bought it, but i have such a strong affection for other Berlioz works that I have always thought it my duty to tackle Les Troyens. I should also state that I came from a month of listening to almost nothing but Wagner. I was surprised to find how much of this work seems like pretty standard Grand Opera fare, despite the evidence that the composer knew only too well that he had next to no chance of hearing a performance which would do justice to his inspiration. It makes sad reading to follow the tribulations he suffered in his efforts to have the work performed I think what I missed was the moments of blazing inspiration of which Berlioz was capable. All the foregoing is subjective and unfair. This is primarily a lyrical work, with moments of excitement, but it will take time and repeated hearings for the true value to sink in. So dont expect the frenzy of the Symphonie Fantastique, or the fizz of Carnaval Romain, this is music which has to become familiar to be appreciated, and no doubt will bring many years enjoyment.
The performance and recording seem immaculate, and the booklet contains the libretto (in a very small typeface). It is a very long work in two almost distinct parts,and I recommend playing each act several times before moving onto the next, this will give you a better understanding of characters, plot and the style of the music.
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This is my favourite opera of all time and for me this is the best version i have heard on CD. To be honest i had my doubts if a live recording would work but believe me it does. Also worth a mention are the other berlioz works conducted by Sir Colin Davis and the LSO.
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By TRT on 30 Mar. 2011
Format: Audio CD
I didn't buy this when it originally came out as I already owned Davis's 1960s recording. But having been so impressed with his recent releases I took the plunge. Very glad that I did! It is quite hard to come up with words to describe this ablum, however spectacular seems like the most appropriate. The sheer scale of it is astonishing. The chorus at the end of act 3 in particular completely blows you away and brings tears the eyes. Whereas the previous recording was a revelation when it was released, this exceeds it in every respect. Ben Heppner in particular is far superior to Jon Vickers who sounds hopelessly strained in comparison. Heppner has Vickers heft but also a far more beautiful voice. And modern sound makes a vast difference - the old recording is simply tame in comparison with this. I deeply regret not buying this sooner. Any lover of opera should have a copy.
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I was at first inclined to award this recording four stars on account of some reservations about the singing but it is performed with such conviction and so much else is superlative that I relented. Nonetheless, it is a central fact that good as the principals are, they are not necessarily a match for some illustrious predecessors. Michelle de Young, in particular, impassioned and involved as she is, does not have a truly distinguished, "queenly" voice of the kind Janet Baker and Josephine Veasey brought to this role and her vibrato tends to become obtrusive at times. Occasionally her French vowels become too dark and occluded where clarity and incisiveness are required; nonetheless, she really comes alive in the dramatic recitative "Dieux immortels" just before her lament "Je vais mourir" where she rises to the moment despite the occasional passing uncertainty in pitch. Her timbre is perhaps too similar to that of the Cassandre, Petra Lang, who doesn't have a very full, steady or even attractive tone but is very expressive and clearly sings her heart out. Besides, Davis's Cassandre in the 1969 studio recording, Berit Lindholm, wasn't flawless either.

Ben Heppner almost makes light of the vicious tessitura of the role of Aeneas and as such ironically strips it of some of the heroic striving that Jon Vickers' more effortful delivery brought to it but as singing his account is terrific and he too comes alive in the scene where the ghosts exhort him to abandon Dido and head for Rome.

Some of the secondary roles are especially well sung, in particular Peter Mattei's elegant and incisive Chorèbe and Sara Mingardo's Anna - indeed the latter, with her full, dark steady production, sounds like a potential Dido herself if she could manage the tessitura.
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