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By the way, are you finally ready to render an opinion on the Nelson
[Benvenuto Cellini recording] yet? And which is the "one more"?
I've actually dipped into the new Nelson Cellini on Virgin, and I'm
happy to report that it's better than I expected. I really disliked
the Beatrice et Benedict with Nelson on Erato and wasn't prepared for
the energy he brings to Cellini. I also expected a kind of smooth
nuanceless phrasing, and there's a little more good old fashioned
delineation of shapes and individual articulation than the B&B lead me
to expect. I probably still prefer Colin Davis overall--his Philips
Cellini is very lively and effervescent, one of the more successful
outings in the Philips Berlioz series--but Nelson hasn't shot himself
or Berlioz in the foot.
Hard to say what I think of the singers. Nobody is particularly
offensive but nobody makes you sit up and take notice. The Cellini and
Teresa are certainly respectable. Kunde (Cellini) actually strikes me
as rather musical, but it's hard to judge from the recorded sound
exactly how big his voice is. He's an obvious improvement over the
many awkward moments in Gedda's Cellini for Davis, but he still doesn't
ring through quite effortlessly and triumphantly enough in the upper
register. This is a comic opera and Cellini should exhibit the panache
and bravado of a divo. (Berlioz once referred to the historical
Cellini as "this bandit of genius" after reading the memoirs.)
Of course, Nelson includes more music than Davis: it's essentially the
original Paris version rather than the Weimar revision or, as in the
case of the Davis, a conflation of the two. And some stuff is in an
appendix. If you're as rabid a Berlioz fan as I am, you have to buy
In addition to Davis and Nelson, I've got Gedda/Pritchard/Covent Garden
(1966) on Gala in less than ideal sound and Vickers/Caldwell/Boston
Opera (1975) in English on VAI in respectable sound. I'm curious to
get the Dorati on Music and Arts with Richard Lewis casting in bronze.
It's in Engllish with my friend Josephine Veasey as Ascanio, and it's
supposed to be the Weimar edition unimproved by conflation with Paris.