Robin Ticciati - Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra - Berlioz: L'enfance du Christ - MusicWeb International
21 December 2013MusicWeb International
This is Robin Ticciati's third Berlioz recording for Linn. He began with a superb version of Symphonie Fantastique
, which I lost no time in acquiring after reading the enthusiastic reviews by Dan Morgan and Simon Thompson. Then came a disc that included a very fine account of Les nuits d'été
; I was delighted when that came my way for review. Both those discs were made with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. For this recording he has moved to Sweden.
Among the choral works of Berlioz L'enfance du Christ
stands poles apart from the Te Deum
and Grande Messe des Morts
. Those latter works are monumental pieces, public in their utterance and requiring very larges forces to perform them. With L'enfance du Christ
we are in an utterly different, much more intimate world. Yet it is as original as any of his works - is there any significant work by Berlioz that is not original?. It contains some of the most beautiful and charming music ever to come from his pen.
...Firstly, he has the benefit of the Swedish Radio Chorus who sing superbly for him. The ladies make a quite beautiful choir of Angels at the end of Part I, their vices ideally distanced. At the very end of that passage the gentle cries of ‘Hosanna'
sound as if truly from the distant skies. The last part of the work is equally beautifully voiced by the choir...The orchestral playing is also very fine on this new release. The Swedish Radio orchestra offer expert and subtle playing. The Night March in Part I is very alert and atmospheric while the celebrated trio for flutes and harp in Part III is refreshing and completely delightful.
The soloists all do well. On all the recordings in my collection the roles of Herod and the Ishmaelite Father are taken by different singers; here Alistair Miles takes both parts and does so with success. In the big scene for Herod in Part I he conveys the ruler's troubled spirit very convincingly without undue histrionics and a little later on he rages effectively as he plans to do whatever it takes to dispose of the child who, he believes, threatens his throne. In Part III, in a very different guise, his portrayal of the hospitable Ishmaelite patriarch is most sympathetic.
Though the role of Mary is often taken by a mezzo Véronique Gens is by no means the first soprano to record the role. I enjoyed her performance very much. At her first appearance - ‘O mon cher fils' - she sounds tender while later, at the start of Part III, she conveys the fleeing Mary's exhaustion and distress well. Opposite her, Stephan Loges is a reliable Joseph and he sings well...Yann Beuron is a clear-voiced narrator...he offers some moments of poetry as well...Ticciati's direction of the score is very sure footed; he conveys the nuances of this very subtle score and he also puts across its spirit very well...As usual with Linn the recorded sound is clear and impressive - and the distanced effects involving the choir are done very well...The booklet, in which everything is printed really clearly - some other labels, please copy - contains two excellent essays: one, on the music itself is by Hugh Macdonald; the other, rather unusually, offers a Theological Perspective on the work by Ben Quash, which contains some most illuminating reflections on the work.
This is a most welcome release which further enhances the credentials of Robin Ticciati, especially in Berlioz.
Related LinksAlastair MilesRobin TicciatiStephan LogesSwedish Radio Symphony OrchestraVeronique GensYann BeuronBerlioz: L'enfance du Christ