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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars

on 29 June 2002
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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on 3 October 2017
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 27 August 2012
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. Both Kenneth Tarver and Toby Spence make much of their beautiful tenor solos. Stephen Milling's Narbal is imposing but a bit lumpy compared with Gwynne Howell in the superb extracts conducted by Sir Alexander Gibson with a cast headed by Janet Baker.

The choir sounds a bit small but they are energetic. There is a case for naming the LSO as the stars of this recording; their playing is everything you could wish. Davis's conducting is taut and dramatic in the extreme - and we don't hear too much of his vocalising which has become such an intrusive mannerism in recent years.

Was there ever a more varied and inventive orchestrator than Berlioz? Davis makes us aware of how there is always something new and enticing going on in instrumentally under the vocal lines and the orchestral set pieces are stunning. The sound is first rate with excellent balance and clarity and hardly any audience noise. I retain the impression that the best music is in the second half of an opera. The Trojan first part is necessarily more jagged and violent apart from interludes such as the lovely duet between Cassandre and Chorèbe whereas the Carthage action contains more which is lyrical or reflective. The opera is sometimes divided in two to be presented in two-hourly instalments over two evenings but it's great to have the whole thing in it entire sweep.

My ultimate allegiance is still with the older recording but I am glad to have both and this LSO Live set is excellent both artistically and as a bargain.
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on 14 March 2014
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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on 12 July 2001
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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on 17 October 2002
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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on 28 January 2012
I have now heard three recordings of this wonderful work and this leads the others by a considerable margin, despite a few weaknesses in the casting.I cannot believe that it is live and could kick myself for not going to see it at the Barbican.The opening scenes are among the most exciting I have heard in a long time and the singing of the Cassandra is just electrifying in its intensity, matched by that of Peter Mattei (what artists).Ben Hepper exceeds my wildest expectations as Aeneas and is better in my view that the more mannered singing of John Vickers in the earlier Philips set. My biggest reservation among the singers is the Dido of Michel DeYoung,just does not do it for me,however in the final scenes she does come to life. Veasey in the earlier set and Pollet in the Detoit version are both better. Despite this I still give this set five stars.
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on 30 March 2011
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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on 21 November 2005
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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on 6 July 2012
Berlioz at his best. A truly stunning piece of music produced by the master of conducting Sir Colin Davis.
It cannot be faulted. Four hours of unadulterated pleasure!
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