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Full Operas - Released November 24, 2017 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Record of the Year - Gramophone Award - Gramophone Record of the Month - Victoire de la musique - 4 étoiles Classica
We will gladly forgive the occasional "weakness" in sound technology in this recording of Troyens by Berlioz (recorded live in concert in April 2017). In light of the first-rate quality of the music and vocals that appear on the disc (a majority of which are French voices, with Stéphane Degout at their head) this immense work is from the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra and the three choirs which have been brought together – because the work demands immense swelling choirs – which are the choir of the Opéra national du Rhin, the Opéra National de Bade, and the Strasbourg Philharmonic's own choir. This recording rests, of course, on the complete original edition, which gives the listener a chance to hear Les Troyens as the work was performed in 1863, at the Théâtre-Lyrique, in which some intense chopping saw Acts I and II condensed into one part and Acts III to V into another, producing two distinct operas (La Prise de Troie and Les Troyens à Carthage). We also get a taste, naturally, of Berlioz's immensely rich orchestral innovations: with every new work, he would invent some exciting new prototype from scratch, never content to rest on his laurels. The listener should note the presence of six saxhorns, recently invented by Adolphe Sax (of whom Berlioz was an indefatigable champion, even if he didn't often use his instruments in his scores, no doubt because of the poor quality of the early instrumentalists who learned - however well or badly - Sax's instruments); bass clarinet, and an army of percussion pieces including several instruments which must have been rare in those days: crotales, goblet drums, tom-toms, thunder sheets... clearly, this is a milestone in the Berlioz discography. © SM/Qobuz
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Opera - Released November 22, 2019 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Diapason d'or / Arte
After his spectacular recording of Berlioz’s magnum opus, the opera Les Troyens, which was awarded internationally, the Berlioz enthusiast John Nelson has delivered a new version of La Damnation de Faust which also appears to be on track for dizzying success. For this recording made in concert by Daniel Zalay and his team of sound engineers in the Erasme Auditorium of the Palais de la musique et des congrès de Strasbourg (Strasbourg Convention Centre) on the 25th and 26th of April 2019, John Nelson reunited with the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, whose typically French style and German discipline he likes so much. The army of instrumentalists would have pleased Berlioz, with its eight double basses and six harps among others. John Nelson knows his way round this music like no one else, he knows to inject it with a particular energy all while respecting the musical colour so well defined by the composer. He is surrounded by the cast of dreams, with Faust masterfully portrayed by the tenor Michael Spyres who sings the French perfectly and knows how to embody the character by playing on the quality of his tonality. Joyce DiDonato is an opulent Marguerite, full of fire and totally engaged. Nicolas Courjal plays a very expressive Mephisto; his sombre tone underlines the darkness and bitter irony of the character he plays. The children’s choir Les Petits Chanteurs de Strasbourg and the powerful Gulbenkian Choir perfectly round off this ideal casting. A new milestone in the recording of Berlioz’s main works under John Nelson’s direction for the label Erato, this accomplished record precedes Roméo et Juliette which the same artists will undertake in 2020. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Opera - Released January 1, 1992 | Warner Classics International

Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4 étoiles Classica
Béatrice et Bénédict, Berlioz's last completed work, is based on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, but the libretto, by the composer, dispenses with most of the intrigue of the original and reduces the plot to a single premise: Béatrice et Bénédict mask their affection for each other by squabbling, and then finally come to their senses and get married. Although designated an opera, it is closer in effect to an opéra comique because of its very extensive use of spoken dialogue. The effectiveness of a recording of an opera with this amount of dialogue depends at least in part on the persuasiveness of the spoken drama, and on that count this version is largely successful because it uses professional actors. They make the comedy plausibly fun, so that the listener is fully engaged, not just waiting around impatiently for the music to start up again. A great amount of attention has been given to production values, with impressive sound effects and realistic spatial blocking. The vocal performances are for the most part well taken, but the women outshine the men. Soprano Sylvia McNair in the relatively small role of Héro practically steals the show. Her aria, "Je vais le voir," is the undisputed highlight of the album because of the music -- this is Berlioz at his most melodically eccentric, most deeply felt, and most inspired -- and because of McNair's radiant, soaring performance. A close runner-up is the gorgeous, graceful women's trio, "Je vais d'un coeur aimant être la joie et le bonheur suprême," with McNair, Susan Graham as Béatrice, and Catherine Robbin as Ursule, Héro's lady-in-waiting. The rhapsodic duet with McNair and Robbin, "Nuit paisible et sereine!" also deserves mention, as does Béatrice's aria, "Dieu! que viens-je d'entendre?"; Berlioz's writing for women in this opera is consistently spectacular. In the opera's leading role, Graham sings with warmth and smooth lyricism, but because of the fragmented nature of the opera, it's difficult for her, or almost any other cast member, for that matter, to establish much of a sense of dramatic momentum. An exception is baritone Gabriel Bacquier as Somarone, a comic character invented by Berlioz to lampoon the pomposity of the composer Spontini. Bacquier is in excellent vocal form and he is a natural comedian, and he alone performs the spoken dialogue as well as singing. The remaining singers, Jean-Luc Viala as Bénédict, Vincent le Texier as Don Pedro, and Gilles Cachemaille as Claudio, are adequate at best. John Nelson, leading the Orchestra and Chorus of l'Opéra de Lyon, delivers an exceptionally polished performance and keeps things moving at a vivacious clip. The sound of the 1991 recording is disappointingly one-dimensional (except, paradoxically, for the sections featuring the actors), dull, and sometimes distant. © TiVo
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Classical - Released September 20, 2019 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet
Though the celebrations in France were rather patchy in terms of official concerts, apart from the Festival Berlioz de La Côte-Saint-André, the anniversary of 150 years since the death of Hector Berlioz was marked with great pomp in London, where fervent Berliozian John Nelson, conducted the Requiem on the very day of the event, 8 March 2019, in the gigantic St Paul's Cathedral, at the heart of the "City" of the UK capital.With three hundred musicians and chorists, this was one of the high points of the Berlioz calendar and a real London 'happening'. To save French honour, a colossal concert was recorded and filmed by a team who came from Paris, under the artistic direction of Daniel Zalay. One can imagine the difficulty involved in recording such a sprawling team, spread out throughout the vast edifice that was built after the great fire of 1666. Miraculously spared by the German bombs of 1940, it has a powerful symbolism for Londoners.The English love for Berlioz reflects the love that the composer felt for Shakespeare, which can be seen throughout his works. "There is no city in the world, I am convinced" – he wrote – "where so much music is consumed as in London". He regularly read the London press and closely followed the reactions to performances of his works. This 2019 anniversary concert was inundated by Londoners and the venue was sold out well before the day of the performance itself. John Nelson commands his gigantic team with a masterly hand, in perfect time, and with a perfect familiarity with a composer that he loves above all others, as once did Sir Colin Davis. The Philharmonia Orchestra responds to his slightest indication. The tenor's brief part is magnified by the voice of Michael Spyres, who projects across the assembly from the pulpit. An immense musical and commemorative event, the memory of which will long be kept alive by this album. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Opera - Released January 1, 1992 | Warner Classics

Béatrice et Bénédict, Berlioz's last completed work, is based on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, but the libretto, by the composer, dispenses with most of the intrigue of the original and reduces the plot to a single premise: Béatrice et Bénédict mask their affection for each other by squabbling, and then finally come to their senses and get married. Although designated an opera, it is closer in effect to an opéra comique because of its very extensive use of spoken dialogue. The effectiveness of a recording of an opera with this amount of dialogue depends at least in part on the persuasiveness of the spoken drama, and on that count this version is largely successful because it uses professional actors. They make the comedy plausibly fun, so that the listener is fully engaged, not just waiting around impatiently for the music to start up again. A great amount of attention has been given to production values, with impressive sound effects and realistic spatial blocking. The vocal performances are for the most part well taken, but the women outshine the men. Soprano Sylvia McNair in the relatively small role of Héro practically steals the show. Her aria, "Je vais le voir," is the undisputed highlight of the album because of the music -- this is Berlioz at his most melodically eccentric, most deeply felt, and most inspired -- and because of McNair's radiant, soaring performance. A close runner-up is the gorgeous, graceful women's trio, "Je vais d'un coeur aimant être la joie et le bonheur suprême," with McNair, Susan Graham as Béatrice, and Catherine Robbin as Ursule, Héro's lady-in-waiting. The rhapsodic duet with McNair and Robbin, "Nuit paisible et sereine!" also deserves mention, as does Béatrice's aria, "Dieu! que viens-je d'entendre?"; Berlioz's writing for women in this opera is consistently spectacular. In the opera's leading role, Graham sings with warmth and smooth lyricism, but because of the fragmented nature of the opera, it's difficult for her, or almost any other cast member, for that matter, to establish much of a sense of dramatic momentum. An exception is baritone Gabriel Bacquier as Somarone, a comic character invented by Berlioz to lampoon the pomposity of the composer Spontini. Bacquier is in excellent vocal form and he is a natural comedian, and he alone performs the spoken dialogue as well as singing. The remaining singers, Jean-Luc Viala as Bénédict, Vincent le Texier as Don Pedro, and Gilles Cachemaille as Claudio, are adequate at best. John Nelson, leading the Orchestra and Chorus of l'Opéra de Lyon, delivers an exceptionally polished performance and keeps things moving at a vivacious clip. The sound of the 1991 recording is disappointingly one-dimensional (except, paradoxically, for the sections featuring the actors), dull, and sometimes distant. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released December 5, 2006 | Ambroisie - naïve

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Classical - Released January 29, 2001 | Warner Classics

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Symphonic Music - Released February 9, 2009 | Ambroisie - naïve

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Sacred Vocal Music - Released October 1, 2004 | HORTUS

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Humour/Spoken Word - Released December 13, 2016 | Nelson John Music

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World - Released July 14, 2017 | Impronta Music

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Rock - Released October 1, 2011 | John Nelson Music

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Folk - Released January 1, 2012 | Mystery Bay

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Pop - Released June 1, 2014 | Impronta Music

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Humour/Spoken Word - Released November 17, 2016 | Nelson John

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Latin America - Released June 2, 2017 | Impronta Music

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Lounge - Released December 3, 2018 | Nelson John

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Ambient/New Age - Released November 25, 2017 | Nelson John

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Rock - Released January 30, 2012 | John Nelson

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Rock - Released November 1, 2010 | John Nelson Music

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John Nelson in the magazine