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Berlioz: Les Nuits d'été; Harold en Italie / Anne Sofie Von Otter, Minkowski

Audio Samples

>Berlioz, Hector : Harold in Italy for viola and orchestra, Op. 16
>Berlioz, Hector : Les nuits d'été, Op. 7, song cycle
>Berlioz, Hector : La Damnation de Faust, Op. 24
>     Le roi de Thulé

Album Summary

>Berlioz, Hector : Harold in Italy for viola and orchestra, Op. 16
>Berlioz, Hector : Les nuits d'été, Op. 7, song cycle
>Berlioz, Hector : La Damnation de Faust, Op. 24
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Marc Minkowski, Anne Sofie von Otter, Antoine Tamestit and Les Musiciens du Louvre - Grenoble have joined forces to offer a thrilling performance of two emblematic pieces of Hector Berlioz: Les Nuits d'été and Harold en Italie. This new recording offers Anne Sofie von Otter's second recording of Les Nuits d'été. The Swedish mezzo-soprano, who has recorded exclusively for Naïve since 2010, is now offering a new vision of the work, where inspiration and technique have evolved, while intensity and emotion are still at an outstanding level. This is of course her first recording of the work with period instruments and with long-time partner Marc Minkowski. They have performed this piece many times together over the past few years, and one of those performances garnered the following praise from the Guardian, "Anne Sofie von Otter was the soloist in a restrained, yet at times unbearably intense performance of Berlioz's Les Nuits d'été. The playing was exquisite, a reminder that Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble is, quite simply, one of the greatest orchestras in the world." The other work on the recording, Harold en Italie, features one of the most renowned viola players of the time, Antoine Tamestit. His warm sound is especially underlined is this work composed by Berlioz for Paganini and much inspired by the years the composer spent in Italy. This new release is offered in a splendid packaging, with a 76-page color booklet including an essay, an excerpt from Berlioz's Mémoires, paintings and pictures that evoke Italy.

"Though the sound of Les Musiciens in full flight is a blast, the most seductive moments in Marc Minkowski's X-rated Berlioz are found in the catch of a breath or the faint purr of a pianissimo double-bass." -The Independent on Sunday

"The performance at times acquires the quality of chamber music. Whether that is what Berlioz, who had a weakness for huge orchestras, would have wanted is another matter, but it is a welcome change...von Otter is inevitably more coarse-grained than she was on her earlier recording of the songs with James Levine and the Berlin Philharmonic in the mid-1990s, but Minkowski folds the accompaniments around her so delicately, it seems buoyant and fresh." -The Guardian

"These Berlioz performances capitalise on the clarity of texture and tonality that the “period” instruments of Les Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble can so effectively conjure up...the glint to the orchestral sonority that Berlioz’s clever manipulation of his instrumental forces could so distinctively elicit is given an extra sparkle, limpidity and freshness." -The Daily Telegraph

Gramophone Magazine
Berlioz's orchestration is rendered with such clarity of definition in terms of individual and blended instrumental colours, and... the partnership between orchestra and the solo viola is on a more equal footing than can sometimes be the norm... Tamestit's viola, warm of tone and expressively malleable as it is in his hands, cuts a dash as the music's Romantic hero... von Otter's mature insight... [is] matched by the orchestra's eloquent, atmospheric, limpid support.

BBC Music Magazine
Minkowski gives [Harold] an energetic, crisp, emphatic reading. The sinewy sound of the Louvre players' period instruments, though, lends it a rougher, almost folkier texture, against which the viola's individual voice stands out more sharply than usual... von Otter, less bright than in her previous recording, has gained depth of feeling and soaring, plangent tone to become a worthy match for Janet Baker and Regine Crespin

The Arts Desk
This performance enables Antoine Tamestit's every inflection to be felt over the startingly translucent sonorities of Marc Minkowski's Musiciens du Louvre. Berlioz's flair as an orchestrator gains so much from using period instruments. This disc sounds stunning... von Otter's voice never feels strained over such a carefully balanced accompaniment... These are the most enjoyable versions of both works I've heard in years

International Record Review
[Tamestit] catches well the balance between the solo aspects of his role and integration within the programmatic surroundings, but self-effacement sometimes inclines too far towards anonymity...[von Otter's] forlorn sense of loss and regret conjures rare intimacy and intensity, admirably supported by the delicacy and colour of the orchestra. The winning subtlety of the vocal items readily transports the disc into the must-hear category.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Opéra Royal de Versailles, France (04/2011).



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Works Details

>Berlioz, Hector : Harold in Italy for viola and orchestra, Op. 16
  • Performer: Antoine Tamesit (Viola)
  • Conductor: Marc Minkowski
  • Ensemble: Les Musiciens du Louvre - Grenoble
  • Running Time: 39 min. 9 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 07/1834

>Berlioz, Hector : Les nuits d'été, Op. 7, song cycle
  • Performer: Anne von Otter (Mezzo Soprano)
  • Conductor: Marc Minkowski
  • Ensemble: Les Musiciens du Louvre - Grenoble
  • Running Time: 27 min. 11 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Vocal
  • Written: 09/1841

>Berlioz, Hector : La Damnation de Faust, Op. 24 :: Le roi de Thulé
  • Performer: Anne von Otter (Mezzo Soprano)
  • Conductor: Marc Minkowski
  • Ensemble: Les Musiciens du Louvre - Grenoble
  • Running Time: 5 min. 16 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 11/1845-10/1846