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Christopher Williams
Fanfare, November 2007

I don’t know what it is about Berlioz’s brilliant yet misbegotten tour-de-“farce” Benvenuto Cellini that always gets to me. Perhaps it is that the score is scintillating and rare, quirky and moving, no matter how it is cut and arranged. True, there are some things in this slightly abridged Liszt/Weimar version that pain one to miss. The devilishly impossible carnival sequence, for instance, is shortened. Like John Nelson’s masterful recording from 2003, the recording was taped live in performance, and is all the more astonishing for that. In the title role, Bruce Ford finds the right balance between heroic and bel canto timbres, and all parts are well cast. Franz Hawlata’s smooth-voiced Barducci is also particularly good. Norrington imparts a spontaneous vitality to the proceedings, teasing out even more rhythmic élan than John Nelson brought to his reading of the original uncut version, and highlights many of the score’s unusual sonic effects. © 2007 Fanfare Read complete review

Adrian Corleonis
Fanfare, May 2007

If the first half of this production is lackluster with occasional highlights, the second catches hold of the Berliozian sublime in plenary measure—and that is sufficient to be recommendable. The aural perspective is from the podium with stage business and orchestra well integrated—vibrantly compelling, gutsy, and closely detailed even through the riotous peaks of the carnival. © 2007 Fanfare Read complete review

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