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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Hector Berlioz - Symphonie Fantastique (Charles Münch)


Composer: Hector Berlioz
  1. Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14: I. Reveries; Passions
  2. Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14: II. A Ball
  3. Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14: III. Scenes in the Country
  4. Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14: IV. March to the Scaffold
  5. Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14: V. Dream of a Witches' Sabbath

Boston Symphony Orchestra
Charles Münch, conductor
Date: 1962
Label: JVC (originally recorded by RCA)

This is a xrcd24 pressing by JVC. Check out the other transfer by High Definition Tape Transfers here:



Munch's 1962 recording of the Symphonie Fantastique has held its place as the best available recorded version against many worthy challengers. With its stunning sonics, this JVC release of the original, licensed from RCA, solidifies its top position. Munch's view of the piece is more volatile and exciting than Colin Davis's classically oriented version, befitting Berlioz's opium-induced nightscape. Under Munch, the Bostonians were among the world's best orchestras and they sound it here, the strings absolutely radiant, the winds and brass as good. The "March to the Scaffold," with its driving tympani and bold brass fanfares, has never sounded more engrossing, and the deep-toned bells in the "Witches Sabbath" are thrilling. And so is the sensitive but flowing "Scenes in the Country," which can often sound overlong in other performances. This XRCD-processed version will be sought after by audiophiles to show off their systems, but its sonic superiority over other recordings can easily be heard even on a small table-top stereo.

-- Dan DavisAmazon.com Editorial Review


Hector Berlioz (11 December 1803 – 8 March 1869) was a French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions "Symphonie fantastique" and "Grande messe des morts" (Requiem). Berlioz made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his "Treatise on Instrumentation". He specified huge orchestral forces for some of his works, and conducted several concerts with more than 1,000 musicians. Although neglected in France for much of the 19th century, the music of Berlioz has often been cited as extremely influential in the development of the symphonic form, instrumentation, and the depiction in music of programmatic and literary ideas.


Charles Munch (born Charles Münch; 26 September 1891 – 6 November 1968) was an Alsacian symphonic conductor and violinist. He studied with Carl Flesch in Berlin and Lucien Capet at the Conservatoire de Paris, and served as concertmaster of the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester under Wilhelm Furtwängler and Bruno Walter. Noted for his mastery of the French orchestral repertoire, he was best known as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Munch's discography is extensive, both in Boston on RCA Victor and at his various European posts and guest conducting assignments on various labels, including English Decca, EMI, Nonesuch, Erato and Auvidis-Valois.


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  2. Thank you for this! What is interesting is that the official RCA SACD contains the earlier, 1954, recording.