Three other great record­ings

BBC Music Magazine - - Building A Library -

Philippe Her­reweghe (con­duc­tor)

Recorded with the Orchestre des Champs-élysées in 1997, Her­reweghe’s ap­proach also of­fers a re­minder that Ber­lioz was a great opera com­poser, in­still­ing his di­verse scenes with a pur­pose­ful sense of de­vel­op­ment and con­stantly ob­ser­vant of the score’s smaller points, in which the choral con­tri­bu­tions are per­fectly scaled. Paul Agnew savours the Nar­ra­tor’s text while Lau­rent Naouri pro­vides a psy­cho­log­i­cally prob­ing Herod. Véronique Gens’s Mary is ten­der and gen­tle, and Olivier Lal­lou­ette’s Joseph ex­hibits a real sense of des­per­a­tion when re­jected by the ci­ti­zens of Sais. (Har­mo­nia Mundi HMG 501632/33)

Matthew Best (con­duc­tor)

Though some may find the acous­tic over-res­o­nant, Matthew Best’s 1994 per­for­mance with the Co­ry­don Singers and Orches­tra main­tains a sense of drama without tip­ping over into the overly theatri­cal. Alas­tair

Miles is a grand-scale Herod and

Jean Rigby’s Mary con­veys ma­ter­nal warmth and sug­gests real anx­i­ety when she and Ger­ald Fin­ley’s per­fectly matched Joseph find them­selves

un­wel­come refugees in Egypt, where Gwynne How­ell’s vo­cal largesse as the Ish­maelite Fa­ther em­bod­ies his gen­eros­ity of spirit. (Hype­r­ion CDD22067) Roger Nor­ring­ton (con­duc­tor) In this 2002 record­ing, Nor­ring­ton and his Stuttgart forces cap­ture the at­mos­phere of ev­ery scene, and shape the score with in­sight and ten­der­ness. Mark Pad­more is the plan­gent-toned, in­ter­pre­ta­tively con­cen­trated Nar­ra­tor, with Chris­tiane Oelze a limpid, fleshyvoiced Mary, Christo­pher Malt­man a flu­ent and lyri­cal Joseph, and Ralf Lukas an al­most melan­choly Herod – viewed, as it were, from the inside out. The re­sult is a con­sis­tently char­ac­ter­ful per­for­mance. (Hänssler HAEN93091)

And one to avoid…

Syl­vain Cam­brel­ing’s 2009 record­ing again em­ploys

Yann Beu­ron as his Nar­ra­tor, though the re­main­ing soloists are not in the same league: Jane Hen­schel’s heavy­weight Mary is re­lent­less, while the Joseph is woolly, the Fa­ther some­times un­steady, and the Herod in­clined to blowsi­ness. Nor is the Bel­gian con­duc­tor as pic­to­ri­ally vivid as his col­leagues in paint­ing the at­mos­phere of in­di­vid­ual scenes, while over­all rhyth­mic con­trol and pre­ci­sion of ensem­ble are both less con­sis­tent.

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