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Faust Comp [Original recording remastered]

Charles Francois Gounod Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Product Details


Disc: 1
1. Introduction - Boris Christoff
2. Rien ! En Vain J'Interroge - Boris Christoff
3. Ah ! Paresseuse Fille - Boris Christoff
4. Mais, Ce Dieu Que Peut-Il Pour Moi ? - Boris Christoff
5. Me Voici ! - Boris Christoff
6. Je Veux Un Tresor Qui Les Contient Tous !... A Moi Plaisirs - Boris Christoff
See all 18 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Introduction - Boris Christoff
2. Faites-Lui Mes Aveux - Boris Christoff
3. C'Est Ici ? - Boris Christoff
4. Attendez-Moi La, Cher Docteur ! - Boris Christoff
5. Quel Trouble Inconnu Me Penetre ! - Boris Christoff
6. Salut ! Demeure Chaste Et Pure - Boris Christoff
See all 17 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Introduction - Henriette Puig-Roget
2. Seigneur, Daignez Permettre - Henriette Puig-Roget
3. Quand Du Seigneur Le Jour Luira... Seigneur Accueillez - Henriette Puig-Roget
4. Deposons Les Armes ! - Henriette Puig-Roget
5. Gloire Immortelle - Henriette Puig-Roget
6. Allons, Siebel ! Entrons Dans La Maison ! - Henriette Puig-Roget
See all 27 tracks on this disc

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars The best 'Faust' you'll run across Aug. 31 2003
Format:Audio CD
Faust, it seems, has been dogged by ill luck in any attempt to record it since the invention of the grammophone. Whereas this set may not be near ideal, it is the best of a ho-hum lot.
My biggest problem is Cluytens. He leads a tidy, prim recording; he makes his points & moves on. But what this opera needs is some panache to make this old warhorse come to life again. Even up to the late 50's it was such a staple of the opera house that it was already past charming and on the quick descent to boring.
The singers,to me at least, have not been equalled since. Here we finally have a trio of voices that can cope well with the music & then some. Victoria De Los Angeles is the perfect Marguerite. Her sweet, gentle, and ravishing (in an innocent way) interpretation of the role sweeps aside any other rivals on record. Also, her attention to text & detail actually makes those long monologues interesting.
Gedda is in fine form as well. Usually you can't get a Faust that can cope with the role; you always get some compromise vocally in one form or another. Not with Gedda though, he has a plushness & ringing nobility that has you thinking that the role was tailor made for this voice. My only reservation about him is a real lack of any dramatic interpretation. There really is no passion on his part for marguerite, he reminds one more of a school boy escorting his grandmother about town; respectful & a bit condescending.
And now we come to Christoff. Even though the devil may appear dressed as a fine gentleman, Christoff certainly does not make him one. His Mephistopheles is a great roaring monster with terrible french. He thunders through every line as if he were sentencing someone to death. Personally, I rather like it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Best...Then 5 Stars! Sept. 23 2003
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
If this is the best recording of Gounod's Faust available, then it deserves a five-star rating. Cluytens has always been able to squeeze an amazing performance out of only good musicians.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The best 'Faust' you'll run across Aug. 31 2003
By Joseph Curwen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Faust, it seems, has been dogged by ill luck in any attempt to record it since the invention of the grammophone. Whereas this set may not be near ideal, it is the best of a ho-hum lot.
My biggest problem is Cluytens. He leads a tidy, prim recording; he makes his points & moves on. But what this opera needs is some panache to make this old warhorse come to life again. Even up to the late 50's it was such a staple of the opera house that it was already past charming and on the quick descent to boring.
The singers,to me at least, have not been equalled since. Here we finally have a trio of voices that can cope well with the music & then some. Victoria De Los Angeles is the perfect Marguerite. Her sweet, gentle, and ravishing (in an innocent way) interpretation of the role sweeps aside any other rivals on record. Also, her attention to text & detail actually makes those long monologues interesting.
Gedda is in fine form as well. Usually you can't get a Faust that can cope with the role; you always get some compromise vocally in one form or another. Not with Gedda though, he has a plushness & ringing nobility that has you thinking that the role was tailor made for this voice. My only reservation about him is a real lack of any dramatic interpretation. There really is no passion on his part for marguerite, he reminds one more of a school boy escorting his grandmother about town; respectful & a bit condescending.
And now we come to Christoff. Even though the devil may appear dressed as a fine gentleman, Christoff certainly does not make him one. His Mephistopheles is a great roaring monster with terrible french. He thunders through every line as if he were sentencing someone to death. Personally, I rather like it. Mephistopheles propels almost every bit of action in the opera & so it seems logical to have such a powerful devil in the wings. At least it makes him seem more than a sneaky pimp for an old philosopher.
If you only have plans to buy one 'Faust' this should be it. However, others should be checked out if you have more of an interest. Notably Bongyne for some terrific conducting.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still the best "Faust" amid lackluster competition May 1 2006
By L. E. Cantrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Source: Studio recording made in Paris at Salle de la Mutualite on September 23-27, 29, 30 and October 1-4, 6-9, 1958 and at Eglise Saint-Roch on December 4, 1958, then issued on Lp by EMI in 1959.

Sound: State of the art analog stereo for 1958. (This recording was made to cash in on the new stereo craze only a few years after virtually the same cast had made a widely appreciated mono version.) A digital remastering in 2003 has been generally successful. By present standards, the sound is slightly dry and compressed, but still pleasing. Some sharp-eared persons have noted distortion on the highest notes and occasional audible tape joins. I do not search out such things and none have forced themselves upon my attention.

Text: This recording presents the standard performing text, dating back to the 1869 production at the Paris Opera. "Faust" was originally premiered in Paris in the form of an opera comique, that is, with dialogue separating musical numbers. In 1860, Gounod having had second thoughts, banished the spoken dialogue and wrote musical recitatives. In 1863, the singer who had sung Valentin at the London premiere had earned such success than Gounod wrote him an aria, "Avant de quitter ces lieux," as a reward. In 1869 came the big payday of a production at the Paris Opera, so the endless, dreary ballet sequence in Act V was added to meet the inflexible requirements of that house.

Cast: Faust - Nicolai Gedda; Marguerite - Victoria de los Angeles; Mephistopheles - Boris Christoff; Valentin - Ernest Blanc; Siebel - Liliane Berton; Marthe - Rita Gorr; Wagner - Victor Autran. Conductor: Andre Cluytens with the Orchestre et Choeurs du Theatre National de l'Opera.

It has been said that all that is required to make "Faust " a great opera is the presence of the greatest singers in the world. Of all the recordings that I have heard, the one that comes closest to that mark is a broadcast from the old Metropolitan in the early 1950s that offers Jussi Bjorling, Dorothy Kirsten and Cesare Siepi. [All you linguistic purists, just sit down, put your heads between your knees and breathe deeply. You'll be fine in a few minutes.] Bjorling is ... Bjorling--thrilling! Kirsten is dramatically involved, sings beautifully and offers a wholly unexpected trill. Siepi is a wonderfully lyric and suave Mephistopheles of a sort not to be found today. Alas, this being a Met broadcast, it was captured by microphones apparently made out of old tuna fish cans. The deplorable chorus was absolutely overwhelmed by the requirements of the score but they made up for it by vigorously stomping their feet on the echoing stage. And Kirsten's King of Thule song was accompanied by the world's most creaky, clackety spinning wheel. [That "Faust" is available up here in Canada, at least, on a set recently issued in the Naxos Great Operatic Performances series.]

Critical opinion about this early stereo version of "Faust" is all over the place, as can be seen in these Amazon reviews and elsewhere, too. The good, grey, English magazine, The Gramophone gives a rather grudging nod to this set as the best of a ho-hum lot because it has a "Mephistopheles with the presence of Christoff and a Marguerite with the charm and pathos of los Angeles." I can't fault that statement. Christoff is all presence. He is a member of the harsh, snarling, roaring school established by Chaliapin. And he's jolly good at it, too! Though I think that Siepi, as a suave, seductive mephistopheles, easily sings rings around him, it cannot be doubted that Christoff's approach is today's accepted style. The Marguerite of De los Angeles is undoubtedly sweet and charming, but she is too much a passive victim for my taste. Given the choice, I'd always take Kirsten. Gedda was a brilliant tenor, elegant, nuanced, suave, a fine linguist and--dare I say it?--intelligent. Nevertheless, he lacked intensity. Unlike Bjorling or, say, Corelli, he doesn't carry his audience over those wonderful tenorial uplands that sometimes rise out of Gounod's sugary tunes.

Gedda, De los Angeles and Christoff provide an early example of today's jet-setting international stars. The remainder of the forces assembled for this "Faust" are French, through and through. The excellent Rita Gorr can only be described as luxury casting for the small part of Marthe. As Valentin, Ernest Blanc is, as always, good but never the best. Liliane Berton has drawn some high praise for her Siebel, but I find her too thin of voice and lacking in fire.

Andre Cluytens served for many years as music director of the Opera-Comique in Paris. Some find his conducting here to be loving, experienced and direct. I find it competent but uninspired. This recording was made at just about the last moment that the characteristically French sound of the orchestra and the chorus held out against the current international style.

All in all, this remains the best choice for a recording of "Faust" in more or less decent sound. There still remains plenty of room, however, for something better to come along.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dramatic, Romantic, and Grandiose Feb. 11 2010
By Waverley36 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
LIT PROF, OPERA NOVICE: I love music, but I love story too!

Nineteenth- and early Twentieth-Century readers and audiences were fascinated with the Faust premise--of the mortal, usually a man, selling their soul for Satanic power on earth. The idea gets explored and developed repeatedly throughout the Victorian Era, from Goethe's own practically unstageable drama to Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, and into the Modern Era with Mann's Death in Venice and Bulgakov's marvellous The Master and Margarita. It's a tantalizing idea: commanding immediate power by accepting eternal consequences, maybe the ultimate case of instant gratification leading to poor judgment.

Thematically, Gounod's libretto (not sure who wrote it) directly engages this common idea less than I expected it to. The focus of the opera is really more on Marguerite, whose seduction, descent, and eventual triumph in death occupy most of our attention. I know that Gounod was a devout Catholic--perhaps he wanted to focus on redemption above all? As a character, Faust is recognizably Faust only in the brief first act, when he makes his deal with Satan. Here we have the dissatisfied student and seeker, desperate for new experience, groping after Satan because (he thinks) God can't help him. From then on, Faust serves as a means of eliciting from Marguerite first loving excitement (Act 3), then guilt and misery (Acts 4 and 5), culminating in her last-second forgiveness and ascension.

This cast of singers and Gounod's gorgeous, often glorious music breathe vital life into this interesting, if occasionally clunky storyline. I love all the leads, especially Christoff as Mephistipheles. His devil always sings but never barks, chewing the scenery with great dramatic effect. Gedda's Faust is fine, but I especially appreciated De Los Angeles as Marguerite. Her monologue in Act 3 while she spins ("Je voudrais bien savoir") is beautifully moving and effective--it's easy to hear the innocent girl succumbing to Faust's finery and seeming nobility. Gounod's choruses, by the way, are among the prettiest I've heard in any opera.

I'm indebted to the previous reviewers for helping me choose this recording, my first Faust. It's a splendid piece, to be savored, and especially right for lovers of full-blown Romanticism.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute reference. June 15 2012
By Colloredo von Salzburg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This has been the preferred version of this opera for ages. There are good vocal reasons besides a wonderful and thrilling
orchestral playing under a great baton such a Cluytens, always warm and idiomatic. In the late 1950s, when this Faust was
recorded, Nicolai Gedda was the finest Faust in the world, with a ringing, easy top and a winning combination of French,
elegant style, and ardency. Victoria de los Angeles, with a beautiful and narrow tone, similarly is just right as Marguerite;
she presents an innocence in the early scenes that is unmatchable and a broken-ness later on that can break your heart. At
finally, an amazing Boris Christoff who stands unbeatable when it comes to "face". Just taking this devastating singer's staff,
this performance is superlative. Choirs and Organ interventions are also very good. In summary, an honest, straightforward,
effective presentation of this opera and the absolute reference. An essential.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Faust so far March 1 2010
By Petr Bochkov - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I should say it is the best version of French opera. Nicolai Gedda remains the best Faust in the history of opera, Victoria de Los Angeles and certainly Boris Christoff are one of the best there. Belgian conductor André Cluytens in my opinion understands very well the main features of this music.
Enjoy!
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