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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 9 February 2013
I've seen the play and the film (twice) and loved both versions. I can't get the music out of my head and the CD I already have is too 'clean' - a bit too musical theatre. I wanted to hear all the live sound of both productions, and retain the film visuals which I found so moving, and I wanted every note, and every spoken word because I think this is some of the finest composing with all its elements. This CD was the one for me - delivers perfectly and I haven't stopped listening to it since it arrived. I love the applause in between, because after all, this is a story about people. The singing is spot on - so you can really bask in the melodies.
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VINE VOICEon 27 June 2013
Fans of this hallowed Boublil & Schonberg musical have been well-served with official English language recordings of it. The London and Broadway cast albums, the international symphonic version and the 10th anniversary concert album have been firm favourites among Les Mis fans everywhere. Now comes this fifth official English-language cast recording as a tie-in to the 25th anniversary touring production, with new sets, costumes and orchestrations. All I can say is that this recording is just about everything you could want from a Les Mis cast recording, with the added atmosphere that comes from being recorded live in the theatre.

Everyone in the cast fits their roles perfectly, singing and acting their hearts out. Many of the performances can measure up favourably to the first generation of fabled Les Mis performers, including Colm Wilkinson, Philip Quast and Michael Ball. John Owen-Jones as Valjean really makes you believe he has suffered during his 19 years in the Chain Gang. He starts off being angry and bitter towards the justice system, but softens in his scenes with Fantine and Cosette. Owen Jones has the spirit of Wilkinson in him and finds more nuances in this role. Earl Carpenter fits the part of Javert like a glove. We may be used to Philip Quast's booming voice as Javert, but Earl Carpenter displays Javert's unflinching character in applying the law. He has an authority of his own in his scenes. Complementing these two leads are Madalena Alberto's strong, gritty Fantine, a sleazy and comical pair of Thenadiers in Ashley Artus and Lynne Wilmont, Kate Hall as Adult Cosette, Gareth Gates as Marius and Rosalind James as Eponine. There is not much to say about each performance. However I might single out Madelena Alberto's Fantine. She still holds her own despite being sacked from the factory and being desperate to raise money for Cosette. So her rendition of I Dreamed a Dream is perhaps different from Ruthie Henshall or Anne Hathaway. I might also single out the superb cast of students, led by Jon Robyns, who plays Enjolras with such fervour. Gareth Gates as Marius more than measures up to Michael Ball. Although he may not have Ball's commanding presence he fits the boyish character of the role and has a very good boyish voice that suits it well. He conveys his lovestruck side very well and makes a perfect foil to Kate Hall's grown-up Cosette. And he suits the emotionally wounded tones of Empty Chairs at Empty Tables after he witnesses his friends die in the final battle. The ensemble cast is strong, supportive and sings lustily, and they are well-complemented by the new orchestrations. Admittedly, I know that the original John Cameron orchestrations had a special character and gave the musial its identity because of the menacing sound of the electric keyboards he used in the original orchestrations. However, these new Chris Jahnke orchestrations, inflected with the sounds of a chamber orchestra, are excellent and fit the spirit of the musical. I might also say a word about the sound quality. This is the best-sounding recording of the musical I've heard so far. This recording was done live in the theatre and theatres are known for problematic sound quality. However it is well engineered so that it is punchy where it needs to be and spreads evenly. The cast and orchestra are very well balanced.

I know that there are a few niggles when listening to this recording. One is that I wish that Madelena Alberto and Rosalind James had been less pop-like in their big songs. I know that these songs are meant to be like big pop ballads but perhaps they feel just a little overdone. However, all that matters is that they still deliver the songs and emote them well. Another minor point is that some songs have had minor cuts. They may be noticeable but the cuts don't occur all over the place. This recording cuts short chunks of Fantine's Arrest, the Runaway Cart, the Robbery sequence after Look Down and the lead-in to Valjean's Confession. However, they don't spoil an otherwise well-performed and well-recorded disc of the musical.

In any case, this recording of Les Mis is all that a Les Mis recording should be - or even, for that matter, all that a musical cast recording should be. Everyone measures up to the pioneer batch of performers and in many cases sets new standards. It has a vividly theatrical feel and everyone fits their parts so well. This recording can ably take its place alongside the 10th anniversary version and even the international symphonic version.
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on 17 July 2012
This CD is awesome! Its just as good as I hoped it would be and can't stop playing it on my CD player (I think I've broken the repeat button!). The cast is amazing aswell, but I must admit that I prefer the 02 cast... Overall, this product is a must-have for any Les Mis Fan!
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on 23 November 2010
I purchased the original soundtrack of Les Miserables many years ago and enjoyed playing it on a regular basis. The only problem was that it was not the whole performance until now. This new version, Les Miserables Live! - Dream The Dream contains the entire performance and it's fantastic. It's a great buy and I for one will be wearing out the groves (if they had any) on a regular basis. It's been a long time coming but worth the wait.Les Misérables Live! - Dream The Dream
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on 6 May 2014
Comparing this to The Original 1985 Cast Recording (Colm Wilkinson lead), 25th Anniversary (Alfie Boe lead), and the Motion Picture Soundtrack (Hugh Jackman), this stands out as my favourite.

The recording has the most life, and puts you in a seat at a live performance, and John Owen Jones as Valjean has the mastery and the emotional delivery to make him the best Valjean in the recorded history of the show.

Earl Carpenter's Javert is excellent too, and I really enjoyed Rosalind James' unusual take on Eponine. It has an informal, intimate quality. Gareth Gates' Marius is earnest, solid, if not outstanding.

And the new orchestration is far superior to the original version.

The only downside? Madalena Alberto as Fantine. Expert but reserved. I Dreamed A Dream feels impersonal, like it's sung to an audience, not to herself. Therein lies the trick to that piece, imo; it's a complete bearing of the soul. That's how Anne Hathaway nailed it.

It all adds up to the best of the versions on CD.
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on 1 December 2010
This is a live recording of the 25th anniversary tour production of Les Miserables. It has an all round fantastic cast - each a complete delight to listen to, the recording quality is perfect and the audience applause only adds to the experience of listening to what I feel is definitely the best ever cast recording of the most magical show ever written. Couldn't recommend it more.
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on 11 March 2012
I was recomended this cd by a friend and since we received it through the post it has been constantly playing. The only trouble is I do get into trouble for singing along!! So what!! It really is first class and well worth the price.
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on 19 September 2010
I have got lots of different recordings of this show, and it is without doubt one of the best musicals ever. However people have rated this as the best version of this ever... sadly I can't agree with that opinion. People must have short memories because without a shadow of a doubt the best recording ever of Les Miserables is the 10th Anniversary cast recorded at The Albert Hall. Philip Quast, Colm Wilkinson, Michael Maguire, Michael Ball, Alun Armstrong,Ruthie Henshall, Lea Salonga, Jenny Galloway, Judy Kuhn, these are the best performers you will ever hear singing Les Mis. If you are new to Les Mis, buy the 10th anniversary recording and give this one a miss.
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on 27 October 2011
This record is a live version of Les Miserables performed at first the Barbican and then on tour around the UK. Some of you may be expecting the o2 recording as that production also celebrated the same event. Just note that this is not the case.

First of all, what is different to the other renditions? Other than the cast, more of that soon, the main change is the orchestration. I think it is wonderful. As a musician myself, I always analyse the credibility and standard of a show based on its music before anything else. It is musical theatre after all (you have to bear that in mind for cast analysis later). The orchestra is very much 'beefed up' and it is recorded in excellent sound quality. The opening scene is majestic and the percussion elements really add weight to the more dramatic moments of the piece. There are, however, some awkward string motifs thrown in to fill the gaps between vocals, seemingly for the mere sake of it, which detract from the mood. Another issue I have generally with the music is that a lot of it is played too fast and sometimes you hear the singers playing catch up and losing their timing quite frequently. Also, why northern accents? It is incredibly irritating and seems like a change for change's sake. It spoils the sound and effect of the working-class chorus numbers. `At the End of the Day' is completely ruined because of the northernisation of the words. They are not even good northern accents either!!!

On to the cast, everyone seems to go crazy over John Owen-Jones. I am a fan of his voice but sometimes I think he isn't as good as others in the Valjean role. His `Bring Him Home' is exceptional but some of my favourite tracks like `Who Am I?' and `What Have I Done' he is clearly exposed on the top notes. I am mainly talking about the huge notes on `Took the silver, took my FLIGHT!', `Another story must BEGIN!' and of course `2-4-6-0-1!' The first is terrible and sounds like JO-J has stepped on a nail and he has to do it in a weak head voice rather than belt it out like Colm Wilkinson or even Alfie Boe. On these big notes you can hear the music speed up underneath so that he doesn't have to hold the note as long. The same underwhelming feeling occurs for the end of `Who Am I?' The note is hit but is held a fraction of the time and seems a real strain. This seems really picky but these are BIG musical theatre notes at BIG points in the show and this is where a singer like Colm Wilkinson comes into his own as he hits these notes perfectly. So, John Owen-Jones is ok but not the best in my opinion (even if he was voted as such) and is much more suited, and brilliant, in the role of the Phantom in my humble opinion.

Earl Carpenter puts in a good shift as Javert although even he lacks the same quality you hear in a voice like Philip Quast, Hadley Fraser or Norm Lewis. His `Stars' is ok but doesn't overwhelm in the way it should. I would probably say Javert is the best and most suitably cast on this recording. As for the rest, Gareth Gates received considerable praise mainly because he WAS a pop star and surprised a few people. Yes, he was better than expected, but when compared to any other Marius (apart from the woeful Nick Jonas) he still comes up short in my opinion. Cannot hold his notes long enough (especially the high ones), has very little power in his voice which makes him struggle to be heard when singing with other cast members and he seems to try too hard with his diction so that he over-accents every consonant, which can be irritating. Fantine is shockingly bad (enough said), Eponine is for the most part very good, as is Cosette.

The biggest disappointment was Thenadier (not Madame, who is ok). Despite being a role which doesn't require much vocal prowess, this guy really cannot sing to save his life. He practically talks his lyrics all the way through `Master of the House' and his `Dog Eats Dog' really does help Javert make the choice to top himself in the next scene.

Overall, the orchestra is the best performer in this production, which gives it a 3-star rating along with mostly good stuff from Valjean and Javert, who still hold some power, but I still think that both leads pale in comparison to the brilliance of past performers. I saw Jonathan Williams and Hadley Fraser at Queen's recently and they would wipe the floor vocally with this recording. (Again, John Owen-Jones is a great singer but I really do not know why he was voted the best Valjean of all time with the likes of Colm Wilkinson and Alfie Boe around - perhaps they just wanted to pick a less obvious choice as most art critics do). Thenadier and Fantine just cannot be described in words (I can think of a few that should not be repeated at this time).

This review has been mostly critical but I would still recommend it to the following: a) a person who has to have every Les Mis recording, b) a person who likes Les Mis and would like to hear a beefed up orchestration similar to the o2 version, c) a person who likes the cast members, or; d) a person who went to see the tour (as this is a perfect memento).
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on 29 November 2015
Bought the wrong one
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