A Gem of a Faust this Sunday Night (11/24) at 8PM
Henri Busser's early electric recording of Gounod's Faust in 1931 with French singers as rooted in the French style of opera as he was, is a gem.
Conductor Henri Busser (1872-1973), was a friend of Jules Massenet and also of Charles Gounod himself late in the composer's life. Gounod was a mentor to Busser, and helped him get a job as an organist in Paris. So it follows that Busser became a composer and conductor very much in the French 19th century tradition of restraint in performance and idiomatic use of the language.
The sound is excellent for a recording nearly nine decades old. The selections feature Marcel Journet as
Mephistopheles, Cesar Vazzani as Faust, and Mireille Berthon as Marguerite, with Henri Busser conducting the chorus and orchestra of the Paris Opera.
Faust is performed often today, but in the decades after its first performance in 1859 it was performed very often. It opened the Metropolitan Opera House on 39th street in New York City in 1883 (sung in German!). When he was a music critic in the late 19th century, George Bernard Shaw complained about how often he had to review Faust - 90 times in the space of a few years.
But the music never tires - it is truly in the pantheon.