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Werther (Colin Davis recording)

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Werther
File:Werther Davis LP.jpg
Philips CD: 416 654-2
Studio album by
Colin Davis
Released1981
GenreOpera
Length130:40
LanguageFrench and Latin
LabelPhilips
ProducerErik Smith

Werther is a 130-minute studio album of Jules Massenet's opera, performed by a cast led by José Carreras, Frederica von Stade, Sir Thomas Allen, Isobel Buchanan and Robert Lloyd with the orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden under the direction of Sir Colin Davis. It was released in 1981.

Background[edit | edit source]

The album was recorded shortly after a series of theatrical performances of the opera at Covent Garden in January 1980.[1] Covent Garden's staging, a co-production with English National Opera, was produced by John Copley and used sets designed by Stefanos Lazaridis and costumes designed by Michael Stennett.[2] The singers on the album and in the opera house were the same, except that in the theatre Jonathan Summers was Albert and John Dobson was Schmidt.[3]

Recording[edit | edit source]

The album was recorded using analogue technology in February 1980 in London.[4]

Packaging[edit | edit source]

The covers of the LP, cassette and CD versions of the album all feature the same photograph, taken by Mike Evans, showing Carreras and von Stade on stage at Covent Garden during the opera's final act.[4]

Critical reception[edit | edit source]

Reviews[edit | edit source]

Jules Massenet photographed by Eugène Pirou in 1895, three years after Werther was first performed (in a German translation)

The album was reviewed or disussed by Alan Blyth in Gramophone in October 1981,[1] by George Jellinek in Stereo Review in March 1982,[5] by Hilary Finch in Gramophone in February 1987[6] and by Richard Fairman in a survey of Massenet's operas in Gramophone's 2000 Awards issue. "Probably the nearest to an all-round modern recommendation remains Colin Davis's 1980 set on Philips, which judiciously balances high emotion and restraint."[7]

Accolade[edit | edit source]

In the Gramophone Record Awards of March 1982, the album won the prize for Engineering and Production. John Borwick wrote that "It is a studio recording, yet the engineers have recreated the theatrical atmosphere perfectly, with an excellent feeling of distance where appropriate (off-stage voices for example), and the orchestra is beautifully balanced. While half a dozen [other] recordings scored close to full marks, the sum of the virtues revealed in this Philips recording just tipped the scales in its favour."[8]

Track listing: CD1[4][edit | edit source]

Jules Massenet (1842-1912)

Werther (1892), drame lyrique in four acts with a libretto by Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann (writing as Henri Grémont), after Die Leiden des jungen Werther (The Sorrows of Young Werther) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  • 1 (4:01) Prelude

Act One

  • 2 (7:34) Assez! Assez!... Noël! Jésus vient de naître (Magistrate, Children}
    • Bravo pour les enfants (Magistrate, Johann, Schmidt, Sophie)
  • 3 (3:55) Je ne sais si je veille... O Nature, pleine de grâce (Werther)
  • 4 (5:41) Jésus vient de naître! (Children, Werther)
    • Charlotte! Charlotte! (Children, Charlotte, Magistrate)
    • Ah! Monsieur Werther! (Magistrate, Charlotte)
    • Arrivez donc, Brühlmann! (Magistrate, Brühlmann, Kätchen, Charlotte, Werther, Sophie)
  • 5 (3:30) Ô spectacle idéal d'amour et d'innocence (Werther)
    • Monsieur Werther (Magistrate, Sophie)
    • À ceux-là ne souhaitons rien!... Vivat Bacchus (Magistrate, Sophie)
  • 6 (2:02) Sophie! (Albert, Sophie)
  • 7 (3:50) Elle m'aime... elle pense à moi... (Albert)
    • Quelle prière de reconnaissance et d'amour (Albert)
    • Interlude
  • 8 (3:46) Il faut nous séparer... Ah! Pourvu que je voie ces yeux (Charlotte, Werther)
  • 9 (3:53) Mais vous ne savez rien de moi (Charlotte)
    • Mon âme a reconnu votre âme (Charlotte, Werther)
    • Vous avez dit vrai! (Charlotte, Werther)
    • Si vous l'aviez connue (Charlotte)
  • 10 (3:50) Rêve! Extase! Bonheur! (Werther, Charlotte)
    • Charlotte! Charlotte! Albert et de retour! (Magistrate, Charlotte, Werther_

Act Two

  • 11 (5:26) Prelude
    • Vivat Bacchus! Semper vivat! (Johann, Schmidt)
  • 12 (2:22) Trois mois! Voici trois mois que nous sommes uni! (Albert, Charlotte)
  • 13 (4:47) Un autre est son époux! (Werther)
    • J'aurais sur ma poitrine (Werther)
    • Si Kätchen reviendra (Schmidt, Johann, Albert, Werther)
  • 14 (3:09) Mais celle qui devint ma femme (Albert)
    • Vous l'avez dit, mon âme est loyale (Werther, Albert)
  • 15 (5:25) Frère, voyez le beau bouquet! (Sophie)
    • Du gai soleil, plein de flamme (Sophie)
    • Heureux! Pourrai-je l'être encore?... Du gai soleil (Werther, Albert, Sophie, Charlotte)

Track listing: CD2[4][edit | edit source]

Act Two (continued)

  • 1 (7:12) Ah! Qu'il est loin ce jour plein d'intime douceur (Werther, Charlotte)
    • N'est-il donc pas d'autre femme ici-bas (Charlotte, Werther)
  • 2 (3:35) Lorsque l'enfant revient d'un voyage avant l'heure (Werther)
    • Mais venez donc! Le cortège s'approche (Sophie, Werther, Charlotte, Albert)

Act Three

  • 3 (2:43) Prelude
  • 4 (7:14) Werther! Werther!... Que m'aura dit la place (Charlotte)
    • Ces lettres... Ah! Je les relis sans cesse (Charlotte)
  • 5 (3:30) Bonjour, grande sœur (Sophie, Charlotte)
    • Mais souffres-tu?... Ah, le rire est béni! (Sophie, Charlotte)
  • 6 (4:14) Va! Laisse couler mes larmes (Charlotte)
    • Les larmes qu'on ne pleure pas (Charlotte, Sophie)
  • 7 (2:34) Ah! Mon courage m'abandonne (Charlotte)
  • 8 (5:10) Oui, c'est moi! (Werther)
    • Pourquoi cette parole amère? (Charlotte, Werther)
    • Traduire... Ah! Bien souvent mon rêve s'envola (Werther)
  • 9 (2:37) Pourquoi me réveiller, ô souffle du printemps? (Werther)
  • 10 (2:48) N'achevez pas! (Charlotte)
    • Ciel, ai-je compris? (Werther, Charlotte)
  • 11 (2:29) Ah! Moi! Moi! Dans ses bras! (Charlotte, Werther)
    • Non, vous ne me verrez plus (Charlotte, Werther)
    • Mais non, c'est impossible (Werther)
    • Prends le deuil, ô nature (Werther)
  • !2 (2:52) Werther et de retour (Albert, Charlotte)

Act Four

  • 13 (3:57) Prelude: Christmas Eve
  • 14 (1:33) Werther!... Rien!... (Charlotte)
    • Non! Non! C'est impossible (Charlotte)
  • 15 (4:48) Qui parle? (Werther, Charlotte)
  • 16 (3:40) Oui, du jour même (Charlotte, Werther)
  • 17 (1:44) Noël! Noël! Noël! (Children, Charlotte, Werther, Sophie)
    • Oui, Noël, c'est le chant de la déliverance (Werther, Children, Charlotte, Sophie)
  • 18 (4:33) Ah! Ses yeux se ferment (Charlotte, Werther)
    • Là-bas, au fond de la cimetière

Personnel[4][3][edit | edit source]

Performers[edit | edit source]

  • José Carreras (tenor), Werther, a young poet of independent means, aged 23
  • Frederica von Stade (mezzo-soprano), Charlotte, aged 20
  • Sir Thomas Allen (baritone), Albert, Charlotte's betrothed, aged 25
  • Isobel Buchanan (soprano), Sophie, Charlotte's sister, aged 15
  • Robert Lloyd (bass), the Magistrate, a widower and Charlotte's father, aged 50
  • Paul Crook (tenor), Schmidt, a friend of the Magistrate
  • Malcolm King (baritone), Johann, a friend of the Magistrate
  • Donaldson Bell (tenor), Brühlmann, a young man
  • Linda Humphries (mezzo-soprano), Kätchen, Brühlmann's fiancée of seven years
  • Sophia Martinez, Clara, one of the Magistrate's younger children
  • Valerio Martinez, Fritz, one of the Magistrate's younger children
  • Claire Appleton, Gretel, one of the Magistrate's younger children
  • Roland Durnford-Slater, Hans, one of the Magistrate's younger children
  • David Rennie, Karl, one of the Magistrate's younger children
  • David Goodson, Max, one of the Magistrate's younger children
  • Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
  • Alistair Dawes, assistant conductor
  • Sir Colin Davis, conductor

Other[edit | edit source]

  • Jean Povey, children's coach
  • Janine Reiss, music and language adviser
  • Erik Smith, producer[8]
  • Hans Lauterslater, balance engineer[8]

Release history[edit | edit source]

In 1981, Philips released the album as a set of three LPs (catalogue number 6769 051)[9] and a set of two cassettes (catalogue number 7654 051), both releases coming with booklets containing texts, translations and notes.[10]

In 1987, Philips released the album as a double CD (catalogue number 416 654-2).[4] The discs were accompanied by a 176-page booklet including libretti and synopses in English, French, German and Italian, notes in English by Arthur Holmberg, notes in German by Wulf Konold, notes in French and Italian by Philippe Dulac and photographs by Mike Evans of Davis, Carreras, von Stade, Allen, Buchanan, Lloyd, Crook, King and the album's child performers. The booklet was also illustrated with images of Massenet, Goethe and the historical personages who inspired Goethe's creation of Werther, Charlotte and Albert - Karl Wilhelm Jerusalem, Charlotte Buff and Johann Christian Kestner respectively - as well as vintage artwork portraying Charlotte's house, Charlotte cutting bread, Charlotte with Werther, Charlotte with Albert's pistols and Werther on his deathbed.

Among CD reissues of the album have been a Philips "Gramophone Awards Collection" edition in 2004, a Decca "The Originals" edition in 2006 and a Decca "The Opera Company" edition in 2012.[11]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Gramophone, October 1981, pp. 603-604
  2. http://www.rohcollections.org.uk/production.aspx?production=1610&row=1
  3. 3.0 3.1 http://www.rohcollections.org.uk/performance.aspx?performance=15239&row=1
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Massenet, Jules: Werther, cond. Colin Davis, 416 654-2
  5. Stereo Review, March 1982, p. 88
  6. Gramophone, February 1987, pp. 1177-1178
  7. Gramophone, Awards Issue 2000, p. 50
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Gramophone, March 1982, p. 1225
  9. Massenet, Jules: Werther, cond. Colin Davis, Philips LP, 6769 051, 1981
  10. Massenet, Jules: Werther, cond. Colin Davis, Philips MC, 7654 051, 1981
  11. https://smile.amazon.co.uk/s?k=werther+davis&i=popular&ref=nb_sb_noss


Others articles of the Topic Opera : La fedeltà premiata (Antal Doráti recording), Otello (López Cobos recording), Chérubin (Pinchas Steinberg recording), Le nozze di Figaro (Herbert von Karajan recording), Mozart & Rossini Arias, Così fan tutte (Alain Lombard recording), Frederica von Stade chante Monteverdi & Cavalli (recording)


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