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A new version of Faust, gathering as much as possible written by Gounod before he (and others) started chopping and changing. If you know the opera you will be jolted by this recording, which shakes any Victorian sentimentality from the work. There is much more spoken dialogue and additional or alternative numbers – for instance, Méphistophélès’ ‘Le veau d’or’ is replaced by a ‘Chanson de Maître Scarabée’, and the famous Soldiers’ Chorus bites the dust. This isn’t an ‘original version’ but a chance to gather all Gounod’s original thoughts in one place. The soprano line is richer and slightly lower, and Faust more youthful. Méphistophélès is more baritonal, dexterous rather than stentorian, and his dialogue is sharper and more pointed. Christophe Rousset uses period instruments and creates an astonishingly diff erent sound world: harder, less swooning, sharper. Benjamin Bernheim is a relatively light-voiced Faust, ardent and fresh. Véronique Gens’ soprano has the right vocal weight and plush tone for Marguerite but she is occasionally pushed at the very top. Andrew Foster- Williams is debonair and louche, and his lithe bass- baritone fi ts Méphistophélès’ tessitura perfectly. Jean-Sébastien Bou is up to the increased challenges of Valentin, Juliette Mars is a fleet Siebel and Ingrid Perruche a cheerfully indecorous Marthe.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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