Related Reviews
Classical Music Magazine
5 Stars
Editor's Choice: 'Ticciati directs a vibrant, unsentimental account of this enduring score, and is joined by a near-perfect cast...'
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Audiophile Audition
4 Stars
'This is a spectacular recording in sumptuous surround sound, and the orchestra and soloists are terrific in every way...'
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Classical Ear
‘Each of the vocal soloists is excellent, whether narrating or portraying a character, and the good people that inhabit the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and its Choir respond sensitively and, when required, dramatically to Ticciati’s carefully plotted course…Fantastique!’
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Choir & organ
4 Stars
‘[Ticciati] obtains excellent results from them, and his phenomenal chorus, in idiomatic French, catch much of Berlioz’s tender response to the narrative of Christ’s early childhood.’
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SA-CD.net
5 Stars
'...sounds so French and oozes with idiomatic Berlioz...'
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MusicWeb International
'This is a most welcome release which further enhances the credentials of Robin Ticciati, especially in Berlioz.'
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AllMusic.com
4½ Stars
'... good for listeners who crave a bit of lushness...this audiophile recording is worth hearing for its subtlety and beauty.'
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Financial Times
‘The orchestra and choir respond to the conductor’s direction with sensitivity: the angelic choral contributions are a highlight.’
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Pizzicato
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'...delicate orchestral sound, homogeneous choir singing and a fantastic quartet.'
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The Arts Desk
‘Glorious music, impeccably performed and magnificently recorded.’
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BBC Music Magazine
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'Ticciati's conducting is warm and vivid, and his textures translucent...'
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Gramophone
'...full of honeyed tones and an occasional exotic splash.'
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The Observer
4 Stars
'...this new [recording] is beautifully fluid, flexible and transparent...'
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The Times
4 Stars
'Past performances have already established Robin Ticciati as a sterling Berlioz conductor...this latest Linn release, with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Radio Choir, wins him another laurel.'
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The Telegraph
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Robin Ticciati - Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra - Berlioz: L'enfance du Christ - International Record Review


17 February 2014
International Record Review
John Warrack

L'enfance du Christ was greatly admired by both Brahms and Debussy, some indication of the width and of its appeal. It was also the work that transfixed the young Colin Davis, the a clarinettist ignorant of Berlioz, and in his conducting career he often returned to it with performances that are among the finest recorded. Robin Ticciati's new version makes less of the drama informing the whole story of the Flight into Egypt than Davis did, but it is sensitive and scrupulous, responsive to the subtleties of Berlioz's score and the emotions of the participants. Alistair Miles appears to be the singer of Herod as well as the hospitable père de famille in Part 3, something countenanced by Berlioz. He gives fine performances, haunted in Part 1 in Herod's anguished ‘uneasy lies the head that wears the crown' aria, as even this infanticidal monster is shown capable of suffering himself, and then warm and benign in Part 3 when the welcome denied in Part 1 is extended to the fleeing Holy Family. Stephen Loges is a tender, anxious Joseph to the gentle but also distinctive Mary of Véronique Gens. A fine Berlioz singer, she has an acute sense of his often unusual phrasing expressing a latent simplicity, and ‘O mon cher fils' is beautifully done. Yann Beuron judges the role of the evangelist Narrator sympathetically, eloquent but not intervening too personally in the story.

 

The work needs unusually careful judgement in the interpretation. As the distinguished theologian  Ben Quash points out in a brilliant essay in the booklet, there is an analogy with painting: ‘The centre of a triptych makes sense of the outer panels; the outer panels amplify the meaning and relevance of the central scene.' Ticciati handles the centre of the work excellently, with the sole reservation that the beautiful Shepherds' Farewell, the little piece around of which this pearl of a work is formed, is given a slightly waltz-like lilt that does not help its serenity. In Part 1 the soothsayers stumble along with a suitable touch of comedy in their gauche 7/4 rhythm; the rather superfluous  trio in Part 3 for flute and harp is prettily played; and there is real attention, on the part of both conductor and engineers, to the often tricky but effective demands made by Berlioz throughout. At the end of Part 1, the orchestration includes instruments playing at different dynamic levels, with the organ (whatever kind of instrument is used) celestial and ‘tremblant et doux', and as the offstage choral singers dissolve into soft ‘Hosannas', they are asked to make their effect with complex instructions from Berlioz in his score about how to mute their voices in a sourdine vocale  (including by turning their backs on the audience). There is no knowing whether or not these injunctions have been strictly obeyed, but the effect is loyal to what he seems to have wanted. By Part 3, the orchestration has grown remarkably lighter, something on which Ticciati has a sure grasp. Hugh McDonald's fine essay in the booklet has seen previous service, but now adds some fascinating new observations about Berlioz's awareness of earlier French works. It is interesting to learn that composers now as little known as Félicien David and Ernst Reyer were direct influences.


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Robin TicciatiRobin Ticciati
Swedish Radio Symphony OrchestraSwedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Veronique GensVeronique Gens
Yann BeuronYann Beuron
Berlioz: L'enfance du ChristBerlioz: L'enfance du Christ