on 30 December 2001
This is a set for the die-hard fan. It has every song in the musical, both a curse and a blessing. A curse because some parts drag and really need the benefit of seeing it live to understand what's happening, a blessing because it allows the listener to fully understand and appreciate the story which is hard to do using highlight CD's.
Despite the low points, I love all the songs, some more than others naturally. But I will quite happily listen to it all the way through, without skipping any. Using this CD you get all the big 'whole cast' songs and many WILL take your breath away and get your heart pumping!
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a great story and beautiful songs.
on 10 August 2003
Out of all the Les Mis CD's out there, this is by far the best. Quite simply, it can not be faulted. In my opinion, it has the ultimate cast. With Gary Morris as JVJ and Philip Quast as Javert, what more could you possibly want. For those of you who have seen Les Mis, buy this right now. It will bring back all those spine tingling, heart pounding, tear jerking, moments that you enjoyed the first, and every time, you experienced Les Miserables. For those of you that haven't seen it, you'd better get yourself along to the Palace Theatre in Londons West End. If you do, I bet you'll come home and order this CD!!!!
on 3 November 2004
I looked through all the reviews for all versions of Les Mis, as I was buying it as a gift and didn't have much knowledge of the musical. The two reviews previous to mine swung it, and I have to say a. how accurate they are and b. what a totally stunning and moving CD this is.
The performances are absolutely wonderful and the CD is a total must have.
on 10 January 2002
This CD is great with a very good cast! Plus, the fact that all the music and songs are on it (unlike the Original London Cast Recording) makes it a whole lot better! The only slight problem is, it is an international cast so all kinds of accents are thrown in, but this CD is still amazing! definitely worth buying!
on 19 May 2002
I have two versions of Les Mis on CD and this one is superb. Phillip Quast is excellent although I have some doubts about Barry James. It is great to have the complete musical on disc. Some of the lyrics are a bit out dated since the show was revamped but none the less amazing. To see the show was brilliant and stongly recommend it to anyone.
Predictably, what sets this recording apart from the others is its completed-ness. It has every song on there, and it was so enjoyable to finally hear all the songs in between, which patches the story all together. Some of the cast members were also stunning; in particular, Anthony Warlow was mindblowing with his powerful portrayal of Enjolras. Philip Quast, Michael Ball, Barry James and the Gavroche also deserves a mention.
On the other hand, the Valjean was not up to scratch. Gary Morris sounds very 'thin' and shrill compared to other Valjeans, and his strong American accent is slightly irritating. Similarly, I was not convinced by the Eponine. Granted, Kaho Shimada had apparently not known English before the recording was made, and I give her credit for that - but even then, she was not to my taste. Her voice seems slightly over the top and she sounds too deliberate, too showy at times. She has a very powerful voice though, and this could just be a personal interpretation.
All in all, if you're a serious Les Mis fan then this is a must-have, as it is, after all, complete. But if you're just entering the world of Les Mis and want the best out there, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Tenth Anniversary Cast over this one.
on 1 December 2004
I can't believe how heavy the criticism is in the above few reviews. For me, the CSR (Complete Symphonic Recording) is my second favourite recording, slightly after the TAC (Tenth Anniversary Cast).
Yes, the cast was poor in a few places. Garry Morris' voice gets to your head after a while, and his "My God Cosette, I heard a cry in the dark" can shatter windows. Kaho Shimada as Eponine was also badly cast, as her accent is too heavy to ignore. Debbie Byrne is not too impressive either, and Gay Soper's voice is way too shrill.
But the four main people certainly makes up for everyone else (for me, anyway). Anthony Warlow as Enjolras is amazing - he is miles better than Michael Maguire and you can never get tired of his strong, clear voice. Then there's Philip Quast as Javert, who IS Javert - 'nuff said. Barry James as Thenardier is just so great! Alun Armstrong on the TAC isn't bad, but James really brings life into the character. And Michael Ball, of course, but he's on the TAC too. The child actors are not bad either, and although it did surprise me at first, the Grantaire (Kenny D'Aquila) grew on me. I love hearing the contrast between him and Michael Ball in Red & Black!
Finally, there's the completeness of the recording. One of my favourite parts in the whole show are the beginning of Master of the House, as well as Valjean's Confession - both cut out on the TAC. Whatever your opinions are on the cast, this recording is definitely worth your money.
on 19 January 2006
This is, unfortunatly, a recording where the orchestra upstage the cast in a rather blatent fashion. The exception is "Stars" performed by Philip Quast however he is the best of a bad bunch. Valjean (Gary Morris) seems insincere and his rendition of "Bring Him Home" is positively cringe worthy compared to previous Valjeans, who play the part with the grace and maturity that Gary Morris lacks.
The one thing this CD has going for it is that it presents the show in it's entirity rather than "highlights" of the show.
If you are looking for the entire show then this is the CD for you, however, if you would prefer the show sung with the passion and talent that it deserves then go for the Les Miserables in Concert CD. Though it's only highlights, the cast is far better.
on 28 August 2016
What often draws people to this recording is that it features the entire show - that's certainly a point in its favour but I believe several less complete recordings do a more impressive job of Les Mis.
First, the good: The orchestra, most obviously, is very impressive. A few passages (such as Valjean's re-arrest in the Prologue, and the introduction of Do You Hear the People Sing?) get an '80s synth treatment that's slightly jarring by today's standards, but for the most part the arrangements are well-executed and carry an appropriate gravity for each scene. There is also one great standout performance among the leading characters - Philip Quast is an unparalleled Javert, martial and imposing, then increasingly fragile in his final moments. All of his appearances are highlights. There aren't any real weak links among Les Amis de l'ABC either, making Do You Hear the People Sing? and Drink With Me further highlights. Gary Morris is a good Valjean, but not an amazing one, sometimes lacking in vocal power, and Tracy Shayne is among the better Cosettes I've heard (I don't know who sings the part of young Cosette, but she too puts on a solid performance).
So what's wrong with it? First of all, the production. Solo voices are recorded with a dry acoustic that does them little justice and evokes neither any of the settings of the show or the sound of a theatre. It is too much of a studio recording, which simply isn't a fair treatment of a stage musical. Second, also generally speaking, vocal styles are more operatic than modern productions would go for. I appreciate that that's a matter of taste, and no doubt of the age of the recording, but it seriously weakens the effect of many more emotional tracks to have them delivered with a fluttering, dramatic vibrato. Fantine's appearances particularly suffer for this, with I Dreamed a Dream feeling particularly artificial, and making it difficult to imagine how that could have been their best take. Kaho Shimada, meanwhile, is vocally fantastic as Eponine, but she learned her part phonetically, not speaking any English, and it really comes through in tracks such as On My Own and A Little Fall of Rain, normally powerful tearjerkers that are too awkwardly delivered to have their full effect.
I can absolutely recommend this to someone who already owns a Les Mis recording or two and wants this too to add to a collection - it has aspects that really do make it worth owning. For someone looking for one Les Mis recording to get the full experience, however, this is probably not the best option. In preference, I'd probably recommend either the 10th Anniversary Concert (The same fantastic Javert, with impressive performances all round) or the 2012 film soundtrack in its deluxe form that contains most of the show (It is, of course, heinously cut in some places, and features Russell Crowe as Javert, but the parts of Eponine and Fantine are given the fantastic treatment they deserve by their respective actresses.) If you can spare the cash, go see it in the West End - the current cast are brilliant and the show deserves to be seen on a stage.
on 14 May 2006
I got this CD recently after listening to the OLC all my life. I was very eager to hear the whole show, and also Phillip Quast, a legendary Javert I had only caught glimpses of on 'Hey Mr. Producer', (I had not seen the TAC at the time). I was amazed!
It was strange not hearing the sudden jumps the OLC makes, (certainly a good thing), and the first thing I'll say is that the orchestrations are inspired, far better than the TAC's horrid orchestration which didn't feature a synthesizer, a surprisingly vital part of Miz's score. It just feels so full.
As for the cast, well, Quast came up trumps, though I put him on a par with Roger Allum as they play the role very differently. Morris has recieved much criticism for his performance here, but I think he is fine, and can do a moderately good impression of Colm Wilkinson, just with the occasional American pronunciation slipping in ;-).
Fantine was good but never really got...loud in 'I dreamed a dream', which didn't match the epic orchestration. Barry James was a great Thenardier, (I'll be seeing him in London soon), and though I prefer Jenny Galloway to Gay Soper she still did an admirable job. Cosette could have been much better, but Marius, (surprise, surprise, Michael Ball) and Enjorlas were great.
Which brings me to Eponine...don't get me wrong, obviousley she can sing, but as to be expected, her English is, to say the least, 'dodgy' in places. I love Francis Ruffelle on the OLC, (more so than Lea Salonga), and though she 'did well considering the situation', that shouldn't be the case on an album like this just for the sake of making it more international. This is the producers' error and I'm by no means saying that Kaho isn't talented!
Another thing that has pained me ever since I saw the show for the first time is the absence of (the proper) Little People. Yes, there's a short refrain but that's all, gone is the light hearted fun song, and I think the show could afford another three minutes added to the running time for such a great song.
The only other glitch I have with this album, and hey, this is a personal thing, but it's the accents. The majority of non-major parts are played by those from the L.A. company, and though, very strangely, I feel the accents work in the beginning section of 'Master of the House', in pieces like 'Do you hear...' it pains me to hear the US pronunciation of 'France' as opposed to the English one on the OLC and TAC.
That's just a little nitpick I have though, and otherwise this album is excellent, and frankly, whenever I listen to my OLC now, it just sounds dull. Compare 'Look Down', (Paris), on the OLC and CSR and you'll see what I mean!