GLUCK Paride ed Elena Kozená McCreesh

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CHRISTOPH WILLIBALD GLUCK

Paride ed Elena
Magdalena Kozená · Susan Gritton
Carolyn Sampson · Gillian Webster
Gabrieli Consort and Players
Paul McCreesh
Int. Release 02 May. 2005
2 CDs / Download
0289 477 5415 2 2 CDs DDD AH2
ARCHIV Produktion
Gluck's neglected masterpiece - featuring Gramophone's Artist of the Year 2004 Magdalena Kozená as a stunning Paride


Track List

CD 1: Gluck: Paride et Elena

Christoph Willibald von Gluck (1714 - 1787)
Paride ed Elena

Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Act 1

Scene 1

Gillian Webster, Gabrieli Consort, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Magdalena Kozená, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

4.
0:00
1:02

Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Gillian Webster, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Magdalena Kozená, Daniel Auchincloss, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Scene 2

Carolyn Sampson, Magdalena Kozená, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Scene 3

10.
0:00
3:07

Carolyn Sampson, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

11.
0:00
0:43

12.
0:00
1:13

Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Act 2

Scene 1

Susan Gritton, Carolyn Sampson, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Scene 2

Magdalena Kozená, Susan Gritton, Carolyn Sampson, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Susan Gritton, Magdalena Kozená, Carolyn Sampson, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Scene 3

Magdalena Kozená, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Act 3

Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Susan Gritton, Magdalena Kozená, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Gabrieli Consort, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Daniel Auchincloss, Gabrieli Consort, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Susan Gritton, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Gabrieli Consort, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Susan Gritton, Magdalena Kozená, Carolyn Sampson, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Magdalena Kozená, Susan Gritton, Carolyn Sampson, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Magdalena Kozená, Susan Gritton, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Total Playing Time 1:19:34

CD 2: Gluck: Paride et Elena

Christoph Willibald von Gluck (1714 - 1787)
Paride ed Elena

Act 3

Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Act 4

Scene 1

Susan Gritton, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Scene 2

Carolyn Sampson, Susan Gritton, Magdalena Kozená, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Susan Gritton, Carolyn Sampson, Magdalena Kozená, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Susan Gritton, Magdalena Kozená, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Scene 3

Magdalena Kozená, Susan Gritton, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Magdalena Kozená, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Scene 4

Susan Gritton, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Act 5

Scene 1

Carolyn Sampson, Susan Gritton, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Susan Gritton, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Carolyn Sampson, Susan Gritton, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Scene 2

Carolyn Sampson, Susan Gritton, Magdalena Kozená, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Scene 3

Gillian Webster, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Gillian Webster, Gabrieli Consort, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Scene 4

17.
0:00
2:56

Susan Gritton, Magdalena Kozená, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Magdalena Kozená, Susan Gritton, Carolyn Sampson, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Scene 5

19.
0:00
0:40

20.
0:00
0:24

Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Carolyn Sampson, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Gabrieli Consort, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Carolyn Sampson, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Magdalena Kozená, Susan Gritton, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Gabrieli Consort, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Appendices

26.
0:00
0:42

27.
0:00
0:24

Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Gabrieli Consort, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Carolyn Sampson, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Gabrieli Consort, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Carolyn Sampson, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Magdalena Kozená, Susan Gritton, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Gabrieli Consort, Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh

Total Playing Time 1:05:31

Kozená is a rash, dangerous Paride, with lean but fruity tone and sensual phrasing . . . McCreesh's magnificent cast and crew serves up a veritable rainbow of sounds: dances of billowing softness, throbbing recitatives and tart, lashing (nut unheeded) reminders of civic duties.

A ravishing seduction.

Paul McCreesh's Gabrieli ensemble reminds the listener yet again of the fabulous standard we enjoy these days for early-instrument groups on CD. Rhythmically and tonally the Gabrieli's contribution is simply faultless; none of the other brilliant groups out there, whether British, French or German, could achieve more in this music. The five highly varied balli in Act 1 are a perfect demonstration of technically polished playing by turns biting, mellifluous and robust. McCreesh is asolutely at one with his
singers, an ultra-sensitive accopanist throughout . . . Immersed in her [Kozená's] role, she sculpts her tone and line immaculately. Susan Gritton's Elena is simirarly musical and emotionally committed.

Gluck's 1770 Paride ed Elena is full of dramatically vivid music and great operatic soliloquies. Conductor Paul McCreesh circumvents the ponderousness that plagues so many Gluck performances, giving the piece an airiness that seems odd in subject matter involving Helen of Troy and the seeds of the Trojan War. But the ear adjusts to this gentler dramaturgy, as well as to a cast consisting entirely of treble voices . . . there's a reason why you probably haven't heard of Francesco Bartolomeo Conti -- but you'd never know it from Kožená's admirable dramatic commitment.

If anyone can, Kozená can -- an impressive restoration of a forgotten opera . . . Kozená, whether putting across the restlessness of Paris¿s first aria or the mixture of anxiety and resolution in "Le belle immagini", or bringing an exquisite mezza voce to the set-piece in praise of Helen, is out of this world . . . The Gabrieli Consort and Players are excellent, the high horns especially. It's hard to imagine this set ever being surpassed.

. . . the music is heavenly and McCreesh and his stellar team ¿ particularly Kozená, on stunning form ¿ make as good a case for it as possible.

This magnificent new recording of Christoph Willibald Gluck's "Paride ed Elena" from Archiv will doubtless win many new friends for one of the two most neglected works of the composer's maturity . . . the success is due to the excellence of the players, rather than their instruments. I admire Mr. McCreesh for making the wise decision not to use a countertenor in a role written for a soprano castrato . . . The direct consequence of his decision is that instead of the frail and artificial sound of a countertenor, we get the extraordinarily gifted Magdalena Kozená, a rising star in peak form for this performance. Ms. Kozená has it all: personality, dramatics to burn, beauty of tone, highly accomplished coloratura, and a pinpoint trill. She steps fearlessly into the bravura role created by Millico and makes it her own, beginning with a poised "O del mio dolce ardor". She is joined in one sensuous duet after another by the soprano Susan Gritton as Elena . . . Long arching lines of perfectly spun legato, dotted with trills and ornamentation sprinkled liberally at just the right moments. It's all ravishingly beautiful . . . The conducting of Paul McCreesh cannot be gainsaid . . . In climax after climax, in dance highlight after dance highlight, Mr. McCreesh's dynamic energy seizes us in its grip -- at times, I wanted to jump out of my chair with excitement.

Under Paul McCreesh's direction . . . "Paride ed Elena" comes to life, warmly, energetically, passionately, and with a full palette of colours: it's a "real" performance, performed by singers (solo and choral) and players fully inside the notes and words, and the sense of conviction informs every moment . . . Magdalena Kozená a magnificent hero, expressively vigorous, dramatically vibrant, vocally agile and remarkably at ease across a wide soprano compass . . .

Gluck's third reform opera . . . comes to life in a wonderful performance under Paul McCreesh. There are no native Italian speakers in the cast but all relish the words and they do sing ravishingly.

Another of Gluck's operas, "Paride ed Elena" -- a setting of the Homeric tale of the love between Paris and Helen -- has been neglected for most of its history. A new recording on Archiv . . . should do much to restore the work to public attention.

. . . its subtle nuances and intimate scale create a particular magic. Felicitous playing and ravishing singing.

Sie verfügt über ein kostbares, herb-schönes Timbre, das zu mühelosen Höhenflügen fähig ist, Expressivität und vokale Phantasie, Attraktivität und so berührende wie intelligente Darstellungskunst . . . Diese von Paul McCreesh auch orchestral auf das spannendste disponierte Aufnahme der unbekannteren dritten von Glucks Wiener "Reformopern", "Paride ed Elena", ist schlichtweg überragend. Innigere, subtilere, von erotischem Feuer geradezu knisternde Gesangskunst als jene der das Geschehen in dieser Oper so gut wie allein tragende Protagonistinnen Magdalena Kozená (Paris) und Susan Gritton (Helena) ist heutzutage schwer zu kriegen. Da beißt man fast in den Teppich. Ein "Must have!"

Kozená ist als Mezzosopran für die Rolle des Paris die stimmliche Idealbesetzung . . . die Komposition wurde optimal überarbeitet. Eine gelungene Aufnahme, nicht nur für Barock-Freaks!

Barockopern werden heute an allen Ecken ausgegraben. Doch Paul McCreesh, Fachmann für historische Aufnahmepraxis und ein Klangdetektiv, hat mit seinem Orchester samt Chor ein Juwel zwischen den Zeitaltern entdeckt: Kraftvolle Melodien und interessante Form-Einfälle, betörend sinnlich dargeboten -- nicht nur von Mezzo-Star Magdalena Kozená -- machen aus diesem Antiken-Psychodrama eine rundum erfreuliche Produktion.

. . . da McCreesh eine Besetzung zusammen bekommen hat, wie man sie sich besser kaum wünschen kann, ist dem Dirigenten zuzustimmen, dass sich ähnlich dem Händel-Boom auch einmal ein Gluck-Hype entwickeln möge . . . Kozená fühlt sich sehr wohl in der hohen Tessitura . . . Dass sie auch genüsslich die Fionituren zu nehmen weiß, versteht sich dabei fast von selbst.

Wie eine solche Gemme glänzen kann, wenn man sie entsprechend poliert, das führt die neue Aufnahme unter Paul McCreesh vor . . . Zu hören ist der innigste Gesang zwischen Frauen, der augenblicklich zu kriegen war.

Mit lebendiger Agogik treibt Paul McCreesh . . . Glucks Musik alles Statisch-Marmorhafte aus. Die Tremoli im Orchester machen die Erregung und Verwirrung der beiden Protagonisten hörbar. Magdalena Kozená als Paride und Susan Gritton als Elena sind eine ideale Besetzung. Die Wandelbarkeit ihrer Stimmen, die Verbindung von samtiger Tiefe und leuchtkräftiger Höhe verleihen der Musik vibrierende Sinnlichkeit.

. . . um es kurz zu sagen, überragend.

Hochspannend -- und ebenso spannend musiziert. Das Gabrieli Consort spielt mit hinreißendem Elan . . . alles zusammen verschmilzt zu einem sehr farbintensiven, transparenten Klangbild. Das vibriert, flirrt und schwirrt fast pausenlos . . . Sängerisch ist diese Einspielung ein einziger Triumph des Paris. Was Magdalena Kozená mit ihrem zuweilen dunkel eingefärbten, dann auch wieder hell strahlenden Mezzo an seufzenden, schmachtenden und triumphierenden Jünglingsmorgenjubeltönen ins Spiel bringt, das ist von einzigartiger (erotischer) Ausstrahlung. Zudem ist ihre Sprachintensität in den Rezitativen schlicht magistral: Selten war Glucks Musiktheater so lebendig.

Ihre besondere Bedeutung bekommt die in den Titelpartien mit Magdelena Kozená und Susan Gritton hervorragend besetzte Einspielung dadurch, daß sie gegen viele überkommene und übernommene Ansichten ob mancher dramaturgischer Unschärfen den Rang des Werks deutlich macht . . . Mittelpunkt der Aufführung aber ist die betörend klangschön und hinreißend phantasievoll singende Magdalena Kozená als verwegener junger Paris. Schon in dem sanften, von murmelnden Streichern unterlegten g-Moll-Solo »O del mio dolce ardor« glüht das erotische Feuer des Paride. Es ist eine verhaltene, eine innere Glut . . . In vielen Szenen, selbst in kurzen Interjektionen ist zu spüren, daß die tschechische Mezzo-Sopranistin ein Gespür hat für die vom Pathos der Distanz nur leicht überdeckten leidenschaftlichen Gefühle des Paris . . . Selbst kleine Ausrufe oder Interjektionen in den Accompagnati zeugen von der vokalen Phantasie, der expressiven Farbenpalette dieser außergewöhnlichen Sängerin.

CD des Monats . . . So darf Magdalena Kozená als Paride mit ihrem erwärmend leuchtenden Mezzo schöne melodische Bögen formen. Subtil wie charakterformend weiß Susan Gritton mit der Rolle der Elena umzugehen. Paul McCreesh trägt mit flexiblem historisch artikuliertem Spiel der Gabrieli Consort & Players viel Abwechslung in die Begleitung von Rezitativen und Ensembles.

Dank Paul McCreesh und seinem Originalklang-Ensemble Gabrieli Consort & Players und einer formidablen Besetzung mit Magdalena Kozená und Susan Gritton in den Titelrollen taucht dieses Fossil jedoch urplötzlich vor unseren Ohren auf, in einer Schönheit, die nur staunen macht, in einer Lebendigkeit, die nichts davon verrät, dass dieses Werk über 200 Jahre lang so gut wie tot war . . . Gluck verlässt sich ganz auf die Kontraste der gegensätzlichen Charaktere und Lebenshaltungen: Harte, raue, kriegerische Töne mit Horn u nd Trompete für die Spartaner, liebliche, lyrische, weiche Klänge dagegen für die Trojaner. Diese Charakteristika holt nicht nur McCreesh mit seinem fulminant spielenden Ensemble wunderbar heraus. Auch die beiden Titelheldinnen, insbesondere eine elektrisierende Magdalena Kozená, haben keine Mühe, sich einzufügen und virtuos den vielen Feinheiten und musikalischen Details dieser lange verkannten Partitur frisches Leben einzuhauchen.

. . . eine nicht nur maßstabsetzende, sondern auch äußerst kurzweilige Einspielung . . . Paul McCreesh entlockt seinen Musikern nicht nur die Tugenden historischer Spielpraxis - bei ihm klingt das auch herrlich unaufgeregt in der Tongebung. Fast schwebend entwickeln sich einzelne Passagen ... Das dynamische Spektrum ist trotz aller Effekte vergleichsweise limitiert, ebenso wie die Tempi nicht den rasanten Zugriffen anderer Aufnahmen vergleichbaren Repertoires folgen. Doch genau dadurch rückt das Drama in den Mittelpunkt. Der Text bekommt mehr Gewicht, die Architektur der Nummernaufteilung und der innere Spannungsbogen werden deutlich. McCreesh nähert sich hier einer der wesentlichen Forderungen Glucks zur Erneuerung der damaligen Oper, weg vom bloßen Effekt, hin zu einer bewegenden Dramaturgie. Dem Hörerlebnis beschert das eine plastische, abwechslungsreiche Wanderung durch die Emotionen der handelnden Personen und die wechselvollen Situationen der übersichtlichen Handlung. Alles scheint hier in Bewegung und im Fluss zu sein, musikalisch und theatralisch. Die zahlreichen Ballettmusiken fügen sich nahtlos in diesen Duktus ein und sind homogener Teil des Ganzen. Glucks musikalisch starke Einfälle setzen Höhepunkt auf Höhepunkt, und McCreesh weiß sehr wohl die Balance und Bindung zwischen den vielen kleinen Einzelnummern voller Elan zu gestalten, immer wieder aufs Neue anzustacheln und dabei doch niemals ins Hetzen zu geraten. Die große Sinnlichkeit dieses Klanggewandes wird auch vom exzellenten Solistenquartett unterstützt, allen voran Susan Gritton als Elena und Magdalena Kozena als Paride. Die Kozena findet hier mit ihrem dunkelleuchtenden Mezzosopran zu einer ausdrucksstarken Klangschönheit von großer Ausstrahlung . . . auch die Gritton entwickelt eindrucksvolle lyrische Spannungsbögen, verziert sie mit Trillern und Ornamenten und ist mit ihrer strahlenden Höhe ein leidenschaftlicher Gegenpart zu den dunklen Tiefen der Kozena. Das ist schlichtweg eine Traumbesetzung! ... Auf diesem Niveau musiziert und gesungen ist Glucks ¿Paride ed Elena¿ ein Muss für jeden Opernliebhaber.

Diese Aufnahme gibt viel zu genießen, zuallererst die Musik, mit sehr schönen und oft sehr bewegenden Arien . . . Keine Frage . . . , dass diese Einspielung die beste ist, die zu haben ist.

. . . nous tenons là le meilleur enregistrement de cet opéra mal aimé . . .

Magdalena Kozená avait gravé les deux airs dans un somptueux récital pour DG. C'est un constant ravissement que de l'entendre ici interpréter le rôle dans son intégralité. Quel timbre ! quel raffinement ! Avec Susan Gritton en Hélène et Carolyn Sampson en Amore, elle est en outre impeccablement entourée . . . Que c'est beau ! . . . Toutefois cet enregistrement, mille fois plus "authentique" que les versions Zagrosek . . . et Schneider . . . - - s'impose sans trop de peine au sommet de la discographie.

. . . el delicado Paris de Kozena . . . extraordinario Gabrieli Consort . . . Oro en barras.

Magnífica versión de la ópera de Gluck, por un inspirado McCreesh . . . el sonido del Gabrieli Consort es realmente notable . . . una Magdalena Kozená en estado de gracia. La mezzo-soprano checa (o soprano, según se mire, porque esta mujer se atreve con todo) canta con un refinadísimo gusto melódico, sin dejar ninguna nota al azar, sin robarle un ápice de intensidad. Ello, sumado al asombroso poder seductor de su timbre, hace de este doble CD una oportunidad inmejorable para deleitarse con la magia de una de las voces más sugestivas del panorama actual.

. . . una bellissima edizione, segnata sopra tutto dalla presenza di una cantante fuori serie, Magdalena Kozená (soprano, nella parte di Paride), straordinaria nella incisività drammatica della pronuncia italiana e nell'abbandono lirico di una voce da sirena.
Digging for Buried Treasure

In arts as in politics, those who set out as reformers run the risk of being sidelined once their reforms become accepted practice. Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-1787) wrote three operas to librettos by Ranieri de' Calzabigi (1714-1795): Orfeo ed Euridice, Alceste and Paride ed Elena. The second of these was published with a preface, written by Calzabigi, signed by Gluck, which set out the composer's credo: "I have sought to confine music to its true purpose, of expressing the poetry and reinforcing the dramatic situation, without interrupting or obstructing the action with superfluous embellishments."

Composer and librettist were setting themselves against what they saw as the ruinous excesses of opera seria, a form bedevilled by singers whose only interest was vocal display, and dramatic truth be damned. Thus have the three Gluck/Calzabigi operas come to be called "reform operas", a label which, for modern audiences, has probably done them more harm than good. While Orfeo has managed to hold its place in the repertoire, Alceste comes round but rarely. As for Paride ed Elena (Paris and Helen), it remains a buried treasure.

Step forward Paul McCreesh, intent on showing that, while some operas earn their neglect, Paride ed Elena has been unjustly cast aside. "It's an important work," he insists. "It has great music, some highly dramatic scenes, and it holds together well. It would certainly need very careful dramatic production and might not work in a third-rate opera house with a fourth-rate cast, but if you have a wonderful cast, then I'm convinced that it's more than worthwhile."

For storytellers from Homer onwards, the adulterous love between Paris (from Troy) and Helen, wife of Menelaus of Sparta, is the prelude to the Trojan Wars. Gluck, though, tells it as a simple love story: Paris, bewitched by Helen's beauty, woos her ardently. She resists but, encouraged by Cupid, her initial reluctance melts away. In a nod towards what might be called the political aspects of the story, Gluck allows for a brief appearance of Pallas Athene who, just before the lovers fall into each other's arms, floats in on a cloud (clearly the reformers did not quite do away with all the paraphernalia of baroque opera). In music of fiery anger, she warns Paris and Helen that their passion will be swept aside in the mighty war to come. Undeterred, they swear eternal love and the opera ends in serenity and bliss.

Gluck was proud of having differentiated musically between Trojan and Spartan by "contrasting the rude and savage nature of the one [Sparta] with all that is delicate in the other [Troy]". What is more likely to strike contemporary audiences is the subtlety with which Gluck portrays his characters' emotional lives. According to Paul McCreesh, "Gluck begins the process of opera moving away from the baroque, towards what we think of as verisimilitude. There is a seething passion in Paride ed Elena, and it hits all the harder for being understated. These reform operas are as delicate as butterflies, and they have a more subtle form of psychological understanding than you get in most baroque operas. You have to get under the skin of the characters, which you can't do by playing fast and furious and having good coloratura."

Gluck's operas, then, are an essential stepping-stone between the baroque and the classical eras. As McCreesh suggests, "It's extraordinary to think that there are only about 35 years between Bach's death and Mozart's maturity. That was a wonderfully developed period of musical history, and in Gluck, we hear the musical language simultaneously breaking down and developing. The melodic line becomes even more important than during the baroque era, and the string players' bow-strokes are becoming a little longer: there are even points at which Gluck uses the instruction con portamento."

Paride ed Elena is through-composed and all the recitatives are accompanied by the strings. Gluck uses at least four different styles of recitative: sometimes the vocal line is punctuated by short secco chords, at others by sustained writing; more occasionally, he deploys both bow-vibrato effects and also a measured tremolo. All of this serves to underline the psychological state of the characters. At the same time Gluck frequently breaks down the conventional aria-recitative formula, including brief recitative sections or adding interjections from other characters in the midst of set-piece arias. The effect is to heighten the drama in a way that looks decisively towards the future, to Mozart and beyond.

Needless to say, McCreesh is performing Paride ed Elena on the period instruments of his own Gabrieli Players, his regular ensemble. It may surprise the group's followers to learn that McCreesh reckons to spend only a third of his professional life conducting period instruments; the rest of his time is spent with modern orchestras. He does not see the two as mutually exclusive: "Playing on period instruments has nothing to do with any sense of moral righteousness deriving from the fact that they may or may not be historically accurate. It's because they are better for the job, which makes it easier to get the sound that I want. I hope that what keeps me in work is my instinctive musicianship, rather than the fact that I may have noted whether this or that source prescribes slurs or trills. I regard that kind of thing as basic, as important when I conduct Fauré or Mahler as when I conduct early music. It's important to look at historical evidence because it guides you and enables you to think in certain ways, but on its own, it won't make an interesting performance."

History, then, does not stand still; a performance can never reconstruct a specific moment in music history: "It's a constant battle to stop people segmenting music. Even players in the early music business sometimes find it difficult to understand that the classical orchestra, for example, was not formed on the Wednesday before Christmas in 1775. There must have been a period, perhaps 50 years, perhaps even longer, when orchestras included a mix of baroque and classical bows and a similar mixture of stringing. I doubt that a sixty-year-old violinist in Mozart's orchestra would have confined his beloved baroque violin to the dustbin. How long would it have taken until orchestras consisted entirely of what we now think of as classical instruments? Probably well into the romantic period by which time, of course, further changes were being made."

When it comes to his singers, McCreesh has clear ideas of the approach that Gluck requires: "The dramatic effect comes from a distillation of the text; when you sing a line, it has to move the audience because of the shape and form of the line. I often ask the singers to speak the text first, because if they can learn how to move the audience by simply speaking, then the music will only enhance the expression. An extraneous vocal gesture will never add to the emotional point you're making. If the drama doesn't come from a central simplicity, a focussing of the emotion, then it won't work."

Intentionally or not, McCreesh is here echoing Gluck and Calzabigi's "reform" manifesto. McCreesh is intent on locating, not the statuesque impassivity which some find in Gluck's music, but its intensity; and he has assembled a cast able to deliver precisely that. A distinguished cast: and all female. McCreesh has not taken the option of casting Paris (originally a castrato, the last such role Gluck wrote) as a counter-tenor, mainly because he has Magdalena Kožená's voice at his disposal, but also, he suggests, because "the role is just too high. There might be a few comedy acts who can sing at that pitch, but a male falsettist just couldn't get the range of colours and the dramatic contrasts."

When Berlioz prepared his edition of Gluck's Orphée et Euridice for Paris, he described the composer's operas as "incomparable examples of expressive music"; yet he was aware that, because the public paid them so little attention, they could easily become "colossal sphinxes guarding their secrets for all eternity". Those secrets may no longer be so closely guarded, but nor have they yet been laid bare for all to see. Paul McCreesh's recording of Paride ed Elena will demonstrate just what we have been missing. As the conductor says, "What I hope is that, perhaps in ten or fifteen years' time, people will be as passionate about Gluck as they are now about Handel."
Nick Kimberley
3/2005