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Michael Spyres|Berlioz: Les Nuits d'été, Op. 7 - Harold en Italie, Op. 16

Berlioz: Les Nuits d'été, Op. 7 - Harold en Italie, Op. 16

Michael Spyres, Timothy Ridout, Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg, John Nelson

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This release is part of a Berlioz series by conductor John Nelson and the Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg, but it is the soloists who shine here. Tenor Michael Spyres, who is really hitting his stride, has a voice pleasantly suited to French music, rounded and subtle, but there is more; Berlioz suggested that several singers perform the orchestral song cycle Les nuits d'été, Op. 7, but Spyres takes all the songs himself. Moreover, he does them in the original keys, which is rarer still. This calls for a singer with exceptional control of dynamic extremes in different parts of his range, and Spyres is exceptionally flexible in this regard. There is a confidence and nonchalance to this performance that grows on the listener as the performance proceeds, even as the sound engineering puts Spyres too far front and center to the detriment of the orchestra's contributions. This isn't so pronounced in the anti-concerto Harold en Italie, Op. 16, and here again, there is a standout soloist; Timothy Ridout offers a rich sound and a real narrative quality that seems to evoke the score's source in Lord Byron's long poem. This exceptionally satisfying Berlioz album hit best-seller charts in late 2022.
© James Manheim /TiVo

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Berlioz: Les Nuits d'été, Op. 7 - Harold en Italie, Op. 16

Michael Spyres

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1
Les Nuits d’été, Op. 7: No. 1, Villanelle
Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg
00:02:36

Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg, Orchestra, MainArtist - Hector Berlioz, Composer - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Théophile Gautier, Poet - Michael Spyres, Tenor Vocals, FeaturedArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 2022 Ascanio's Purse under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

2
Les Nuits d’été, Op. 7: No. 2, Le spectre de la rose
Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg
00:06:51

Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg, Orchestra, MainArtist - Hector Berlioz, Composer - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Théophile Gautier, Poet - Michael Spyres, Tenor Vocals, FeaturedArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 2022 Ascanio's Purse under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

3
Les Nuits d’été, Op. 7: No. 3, Sur les lagunes
Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg
00:07:03

Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg, Orchestra, MainArtist - Hector Berlioz, Composer - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Théophile Gautier, Poet - Michael Spyres, Tenor Vocals, FeaturedArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 2022 Ascanio's Purse under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

4
Les Nuits d’été, Op. 7: No. 4, Absence
Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg
00:05:18

Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg, Orchestra, MainArtist - Hector Berlioz, Composer - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Théophile Gautier, Poet - Michael Spyres, Tenor Vocals, FeaturedArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 2022 Ascanio's Purse under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

5
Les Nuits d’été, Op. 7: No. 5, Au cimetière
Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg
00:05:51

Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg, Orchestra, MainArtist - Hector Berlioz, Composer - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Théophile Gautier, Poet - Michael Spyres, Tenor Vocals, FeaturedArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 2022 Ascanio's Purse under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

6
Les Nuits d’été, Op. 7: No. 6, L'île inconnue
Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg
00:03:42

Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg, Orchestra, MainArtist - Hector Berlioz, Composer - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Théophile Gautier, Poet - Michael Spyres, Tenor Vocals, FeaturedArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 2022 Ascanio's Purse under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

7
Harold en Italie, Op. 16: I. Harold aux montagnes. Scènes de mélancolie, de bonheur et de joie
Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg
00:15:45

Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg, Orchestra, MainArtist - Hector Berlioz, Composer - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Timothy Ridout, Viola, FeaturedArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 2022 Ascanio's Purse under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

8
Harold en Italie, Op. 16: II. Marche des pèlerins chantant la prière du soir
Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg
00:07:04

Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg, Orchestra, MainArtist - Hector Berlioz, Composer - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Timothy Ridout, Viola, FeaturedArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 2022 Ascanio's Purse under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

9
Harold en Italie, Op. 16: III. Sérénade d'un montagnard des Abruzzes à sa maîtresse
Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg
00:06:07

Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg, Orchestra, MainArtist - Hector Berlioz, Composer - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Timothy Ridout, Viola, FeaturedArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 2022 Ascanio's Purse under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

10
Harold en Italie, Op. 16: IV. Orgie de brigands. Souvenirs des scènes précédentes
Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg
00:12:17

Orchestre Philharmonique De Strasbourg, Orchestra, MainArtist - Hector Berlioz, Composer - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Timothy Ridout, Viola, FeaturedArtist

A Warner Classics/Erato release, © 2022 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 2022 Ascanio's Purse under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Limited

Album Description

This release is part of a Berlioz series by conductor John Nelson and the Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg, but it is the soloists who shine here. Tenor Michael Spyres, who is really hitting his stride, has a voice pleasantly suited to French music, rounded and subtle, but there is more; Berlioz suggested that several singers perform the orchestral song cycle Les nuits d'été, Op. 7, but Spyres takes all the songs himself. Moreover, he does them in the original keys, which is rarer still. This calls for a singer with exceptional control of dynamic extremes in different parts of his range, and Spyres is exceptionally flexible in this regard. There is a confidence and nonchalance to this performance that grows on the listener as the performance proceeds, even as the sound engineering puts Spyres too far front and center to the detriment of the orchestra's contributions. This isn't so pronounced in the anti-concerto Harold en Italie, Op. 16, and here again, there is a standout soloist; Timothy Ridout offers a rich sound and a real narrative quality that seems to evoke the score's source in Lord Byron's long poem. This exceptionally satisfying Berlioz album hit best-seller charts in late 2022.
© James Manheim /TiVo

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