ORIGINAL DUISBURG CAST
Release date: 16 September 1996
Polydor Records, CD - 531 238-2
1. Prolog [Cutdown version of the Prologue - Includes the full Work Song, Valjean's complete "Freedom is mine..." monologue, and the complete Valjean Arrested/Valjean Forgiven sequence a la OBC.]
2. Am Ende vom Tag [At the End of the Day - Cuts straight from the ensemble's third verse to the beginning of the Factory Girl's lines, omitting the Foreman's "At the end of the day, you get nothing for nothing..." through "You've got to pay your way/At the end of the day!"]
3. Ich hab geträumt vor langer Zeit [I Dreamed a Dream - Full song.]
4. Leichte Mädels [Lovely Ladies/Fantine's Arrest - Cuts the locket sequence and accompanying verse. Then cuts Bamatabois' scene and starts straight with Javert's entrance, then plays through in full to the end of the scene, playing a final chord on Valjean's last "I will see it done!" in place of the Cart Crash music.]
5. Wer bin ich? [Who Am I? - Full song, includes horn intro, though cuts transition music, as is standard for most recordings.]
6. Fantine's Tod [Fantine's Death: Come to Me/Confrontation - Full scene.]
7. Herr im Haus [Master of the House - Includes some of the intro, from "Come here, you old pest!" to "...Or I'm not Thénardier," before cutting to "Landlord over here!" and playing through in full from there.]
8. Sterne [Stars - Full song.]
9. Rot und Schwarz [ABC Café/Red and Black [Starts at "It is time for us all to decide who we are," and plays through in full, leading directly to...]
10. Lied des Volkes [Do You Hear the People Sing? - Full song, those contains standard false ending, as with most albums.]
11. Schon so Lang [In My Life - No intro, starts right with Cosette's "How strange..." and cuts the Valjean/Cosette exchange a la TAC.]
12. Mein Herz ruft nach dir [A Heart Full of Love - Full song.]
13. Morgen schon [One Day More - Full song.]
14. Nur für mich [On My Own - Full song.]
15. Der erste Angriff [At the Barricade/First Attack - The barricade boys' pledge, from "Now we pledge ourselves to hold this barricade!" through "We'll be there!" then cuts directly to the First Attack a la OBC.]
16. Trinkt mit mir [Drink with Me - Full song.]
17. Bring ihn Heim [Bring Him Home - Full song.]
18. Die letzte Schlacht [The Final Battle - Mostly full song. The big orchestra hit after Gavroche's death is cut, starting cold on the loud hailer's trumpets.]
19. Javert's Selbstmord [Javert's Suicide - Mostly standard album cuts a la OBC, though the pulsing strings are cut from the intro, going straight for the horns.]
20. Dunkles Schweigen an den Tischen [Empty Chairs at Empty Tables - Full song.]
21. Die Hochzeit [Wedding Chorale - Chorale only.]
22. Epilog [Standard album cuts a la OBC.]
The Original Duisburg Cast is a landmark album in two ways, as it remains the only official recording from Les Misérables' rich history of German productions, and it is only one of two albums that brings the Kurzweil sounds introduced on the TAC into a recording studio. Having opened on 26 January 1996 at the Musical Theater Duisburg, and the album having been released in September of that year, I would conjecture that recording sessions likely took place within the first few months of its run, probably in March or April, though the liner notes do not specify. In any case, this ensemble, recorded at Sound Studio N in Cologne (Köln) is one of the finest and most energetic on record, obviously captured in their prime. Standout players include just about the entire cast, especially Hartwig Rudolz' stunningly powerful Javert, Cornelia Drese's thoroughly impassioned Fantine, and Sanni Luis' surprisingly earnest Eponine. Jerzy Jeszke steps into Valjean's role right from his moment at the TAC representing Germany, and Felix Martin turns in a far more seasoned performance as Marius than he had managed eight years prior in Vienna. The orchestra, a robust thirty-five players under the baton of Nick Davies*, is perfectly balanced and captured, and album producer Klaus Wilhelm deserves the highest commendations for assembling a coherent telling of the story onto a single disc.
* - There is no conductor credit in the liner notes, but Nick Davies is credited as musical director, so I'm operating under the assumption that he was conducting as well.
The Duisburg album comes in a standard CD jewel case, featuring the Cosette logo on the cover in front of a smoky blue background. The back cover features a track listing, complete with runtimes. The disc itself features white text on blue, featuring the title logo and another full track listing. Included is a thirty-two page booklet, featuring full production credits (except for the conductor, oddly enough), cast listing, lyrics, synopsis, and many, many color photographs.
Inside front cover:
Lyric page sample:
More assorted photographs:
The back cover sports one of my favorite Enjolras shots:
It should also be noted that three tracks from this album (Lied des Volkes, Bring ihn Heim, Ich hab geträumt...) were included on a sampler disc used to promote the Berlin production in 2003.
This is another album that I've had for a very long time. I'm pretty sure I picked it up on my first ever trip to Footlight Records in 1999, and just as with the PRC, it hasn't been particularly far from my stereo wherever I've lived since then. It's another shining example of how a well-recorded, well-balanced orchestra can make a record shine, and a brilliant example of how John Cameron's original orchestrations can be toyed and played with through some skilled musical direction without being compromised . I've never heard a cello attack that line in the Work Song before or since; it sounds like the bow is going to just saw right through those strings. The Kurzweils actually manage to be a fairly sinister replacement for the DX-7's when they appear, a feat that they had not achieved at the TAC. A sort of metered scratching that works far better than it should finds its way onto the string attacks at the beginning of "Valjean Arrested," and just after the trumpets herald the Loud Hailer in the "Final Battle." But this isn't scary Miz; there's a warmth and heart to the proceedings here that aren't necessarily indicated by the blues and cool colors that fill the artwork and liner notes. The strings sore beautifully where they should, at the climaxes to the big solos, and the acoustic guitar lines are perfectly captured for those introspective moments at Fantine's Arrest and Drink With Me. This is the breath resultant from Les Mis' new lease on life post-TAC, and it is glorious.