Marin Alsop leads the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a new recording of Bernstein’s riotous satirical operetta ‘Candide’.
Made almost three decades after the composer’s own iconic recording with the Orchestra, Alsop’s new version was captured during celebratory concerts marking Bernstein’s centenary year, and features an outstanding array of soloists, including Leonardo Capalbo (Candide), Jane Archibald (Cunégonde), Anne Sofie von Otter (The Old Lady) and Sir Thomas Allen (Dr Pangloss, Narrator).
With lyrical contributions from acerbic writers Richard Wilbur, John Latouche, Lillian Hellman, and a young Stephen Sondheim, ‘Candide’ marries raucous humor with the extraordinary genius of Leonard Bernstein.
Leonardo Capalbo – Candide
Jane Archibald – Cunégonde
Anne Sofie von Otter – The Old Lady
Sir Thomas Allen – Dr. Pangloss, Narrator
Thomas Atkins – Soloist
Marcus Farnsworth – Soloist
London Symphony Orchestra
London Symphony Chorus
Guildhall School Young Artists
Marin Alsop, Conductor
Total time: 01:56:43
DSD 512 fs, DSD 256 fs, DSD 128 fs, DSD 64 fs, DXD 24 Bit, FLAC 192 kHz, FLAC 96 kHz
Anne Sofie von Otter, Guildhall School Young Artists, Jane Archibald, Leonardo Capalbo, London Symphony Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra, Marcus Farnsworth, Marin Alsop, Sir Thomas Allen, Thomas Atkins
Neil Hutchinson & Jonathan Stokes for Classic Sound Ltd
|Original Recording Format|
Neil Hutchinson & Jonathan Stokes for Classic Sound Ltd
Recorded Live in DSD 128fs during semi-staged performances (directed by Garnett Bruce) on December 8-9, 2018 at the Barbican, London
|Release Date||October 8, 2021|
Leonard Bernstein’s 1950s’ Voltaire-based opera/operetta/musical hybrid hedges its bets uneasily between theatre and opera-house, but on the strength of its music – wonderful tunes, an Overture as life-enhancing as that to The Marriage of Figaro, brilliant orchestration – it is too great a flawed masterpiece to pass by.
This LSO version was devised by Garnett Bruce and Marin Alsop, both of whom worked closely with Bernstein, and it was broadly the composer’s so-called definitive version of 1989, although numbers such as ‘The Sheep’s Song’ were reinstated, and Candide’s great Italianate aria ‘Nothing More Than This’ cut, presumably in keeping with the generally up-beat and relentlessly cynical approach.
Leonardo Capalbo’s big tenor is quite a showstopper at full tilt, and he deployed it magnificently in Candide’s music, especially the Lament and the Broadway-style ‘Make Our Garden Grow’ conclusion; he also kept us guessing as to Candide’s true nature. Jane Archibald, a soprano of sterling technique and laconic humor, seized the moment with spectacular singing in Cunegonde’s coloratura high jinks of ‘Glitter And Be Gay’. Anne Sofie von Otter expanded the cameo role of the Old Lady into something much bigger – she had great success with ‘I Am Easily Assimilated’ – and although her ‘We Are Women’ duet with Cunegonde went on a bit, it gave her fans more of a chance to appreciate her qualities. Thomas Atkins and Marcus Farnsworth slipped in and out of eight characters as if greased, scoring highly with Vanderdendur’s (Atkins) and Maximilian’s (Farnsworth) solos, and there was an enchanting Paquette from Carmen Artaza. Five singers from the Guildhall School shared out fifteen roles and entered the spirit and eccentricities of Brice’s enthusiastic comic staging with great gusto.
There’s a video of Bernstein conducting the LSO in Candide at the Barbican Hall from 1989, the year before he died, when he seemed to be on top form, and there have been at least two concert performances since then so the LSO has form in this score, and it and Marin Alsop were the overall heroes of the evening. The playing produced that unmistakable sheen of glamour and style, bags of both, and Alsop steered the music faultlessly from low comedy to opera ecstasy with unflagging affection and bite.
The Arts Desk
My, oh my, that music. Those lyrics. That singing. And some really intelligent conducting. Marin Alsop, who studied with Bernstein, brought the score beefy lyricism, biting irony and sensible tempi. It might be tempting to take certain numbers faster, but you wouldn’t be able to hear, let alone sing, the words. Those lyrics – by Richard Wilbur, Stephen Sondheim, John Latouche, Lillian Helman and Bernstein himself – need to be center stage and were.
As Cunegonde, Jane Archibald relished all the coloratura glory, bringing the house down with a “Glitter and be Gay” that laid on with a trowel contrast, hypocrisy, fun and sheer exultation. Her duet with Anne Sofie von Otter’s Old Lady, “We Are Women“, was a joyous highlight too, with Alsop, looking round laconically from her podium, turning orchestral interjections into an implied commentary. Allen was a suitably blustery, endearing Panglosse and Leonardo Capalbo brought the unfortunate non-hero’s numbers a lovely Italianate glow. Von Otter shone bright with charisma and multifarious accents in “I Am Easily Assimilated“. Tenor Thomas Atkins and baritone Marcus Farnsworth made the most of a quantity of smaller roles each.
It was the London Symphony Chorus, above all, who seemed to be having the time of their lives and injected this performance with a pizzazz that was a hundred per cent irresistible.
The rhythms snapped and crackled, the colors were bright, and the energy didn’t flag.
Marin Alsop conducted a lively LSO in music the orchestra must have in its bones.
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