Berlioz: L'enfance du Christ (2SACD)

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Melbourne Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Sir Andrew Davis

Berlioz wrote his own text for L’Enfance du Christ, which he composed in 1853 and 1854. It was first performed at the Salle Herz, Paris on 10 December 1854, with Berlioz conducting. He described the work as a Trilogie sacrée. The first of its three sections depicts King Herod ordering the massacre of all newborn children in Judaea; the second shows Mary, Joseph, and Jesus setting out for Egypt to avoid the slaughter, having been warned by angels; and the final section portrays their arrival in the Egyptian town of Saïs where they are given refuge by a family of Ishmaelites. Berlioz was not religious as an adult but remained all his life susceptible to the beauty of the religious music that had enraptured him as a child. Sir Andrew Davis conducts the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and MSO Chorus and an outstanding team of soloists in this Surround Sound SACD recording.

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Première Partie. Le Songe d'Hérode

  1. Prologue - Le Récitant: Dans la crèche, en ce temps'.
  2. Scene I. Marche nocturne - Moderato
  3. Scene I. Marche nocturne - Récitatif.
  4. Scene II. Air d'Hérode - Hérode: "Toujours ce rêve!'
  5. Scene III. Polydorus: 'Seigneur!'

Hérode et les Devins

  1. Scene IV. Les Devins: "Les sages de Judée"
  2. Scene IV. Allegretto -
  3. Scene IV. Hérode: "Eh bien"
  4. Scene V. Duo - Sainte Marie: "O mon cher fils"
  5. Scene VI: Choeur d'anges: "Joseph! Marie!"

Deuxième Partie: La Fuite en Égypte

  1. Ouverture
  2. L'Adieu des bergess à la Sainte Famille. Chœur des bergers
  3. Le Repos de la Sainte Famille. Allegretto grazioso -



Troisième Partie: L'Arrivée a Saïs

  1. Le Récitant: "Depuis trois jours, malgré l'ardeur du vent'.
  2. Scene I. Duo - Sainte Marie: 'Dans cette ville immense'.
  3. Scene II. Le Maître de maison: 'Entrez, pauvres Hébreux'.
  4. Scene II. Le Maitre de maison: 'Sur vos traits fatigués' -
  5. Scene II. Trio pour deux flutes et harpe.
  6. Scene II. Le Maître de maison: 'Vous pleurez, jeune mère' -
  7. Scene III. Épilogue. Le Récitant: 'Ce fut ainsi que par un infidèle'.


Sasha Cooke (mezzo-soprano), Andrew Staples (tenor), Roderick Williams (baritone), Matthew Brook (bass-baritone), Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis (conductor)

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It’s 150 years since Berlioz died and the celebratory releases continue to flow. Religious music is noticeably absent from his output, and he is inescapably linked with the demonic—Witches Sabbath from Symphonie Fantastique, Damnation of Faust—so it is remarkable that he also wrote one of the most affecting and beloved oratorios of nineteenth century French music, the Childhood of Christ. The music has all the descriptive immediacy we expect from Berlioz and is couched in a gentle idiom that astonished and delighted its first audiences. Although Sir Andrew Davis is not a relative of Berlioz-specialist Sir Colin Davis, he brings all the necessary sensitivity to directing this Sacred Trilogy. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra are joined by a plethora of talented singers, including renowned baritone Roderick Williams.

- Chris Dench, The Classical Music Collector