Saturday, April 30, 2011

Gluck - Alceste - Gardiner, Otter, Groves, English Baroque Soloists







This album was nominated for the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording.

Thus spake Shaw, writing about Gluck towards the end of the 19th century. Shaw went on to allege that the musical culture of his time had not fully caught up with this great master and reformer of opera, and the very thoughtful and instructive essay that Gardiner contributes here suggests to me that there may still, in the third millennium, be a little catching up to do. Whatever one thinks of Gluck, either as a composer or as a musical dramatist or as an operatic Christoph W. Gluck rationalist and reformer, it seems to me that he was very clear-headed in one basic respect - he knew the difference between musical drama and musical tableau. Classical drama has an inherent tendency towards tableau, with its statues, white-robed women, prophets, deities and heroes. This still tempts producers of Gluck's operas into statuesque stagings with a certain immobility about them. I don't necessarily find fault with this, what I do suggest is that Gluck's operas can't all be viewed in the same way. Even when the libretto is, like that of Armide, an uneasy combination of the dramatic with the statuesque, Gluck is always clear in his mind which mode he is operating in. When it comes to Alceste, the book of the opera is clearly dramatic all the way through. Gluck can see this, and Gardiner's remarks as well as his direction suggest to me that he sees it this way too.

Performer:  Yann Beuron,  Dietrich Henschel,  Anne Sofie von Otter,  Joanne Lunn,  Katherine Fuge, Ludovic Tézier,  Nicolas Testé,  Paul Groves
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists,  Monteverdi Choir


flac, covers

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