Andrew Davis / Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Berlioz: L'Enfance du Christ

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AllMusic Review by

Hector Berlioz's L'enfance du Christ is a unique work, somewhere between an opera and an oratorio, favoring soloists over the chorus but coming to rest in lyrical moments that Berlioz himself, not a religious man, built into the text that lend the work a kind of gentle mysticism. Berlioz himself called the work a tragédie sacrée. It's a tricky dynamic to strike for the conductor. Colin Davis was a specialist in the work who could handle the soloists in the right way, and Sir Andrew Davis, his namesake if not his relative, has picked up the mantle. Sample the final "Epilogue" for the work's virtues in capsule. There's the transparent scoring, with most of detail given to the winds, and the strings of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra pared back. There's the effective Berlioz text, with the choir answering the narrator with a contemplative "O my Soul, what remains for you to do but shatter your pride before so great a mystery?" And then there is the work of some soloists in top form: baritone Roderick Williams as Joseph, mezzo soprano Sasha Cooke as Mary, and Andrew Staples as an effective narrator. It's top-notch Berlioz, losing nothing in the complexity of orchestration, but embodying an innocent mood unique for the composer. Highly recommended.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
L'enfance du Christ, Op. 25
1 01:46
2 03:58
3 03:53
4 07:03
5 00:39
6 03:06
7 02:49
8 02:43
9 06:59
10 04:28
11 05:44
12 04:33
13 05:35

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
L'enfance du Christ, Op. 25
1 03:26
2 04:49
3 04:09
4 03:07
5 06:16
6 04:24
7 10:13
blue highlight denotes track pick