Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Hector Berlioz - Symphonie Fantastique; Marches & Overtures (Paul Paray)


Information

Composer: Hector Berlioz
  1. Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14: 1. Reveries and Passions (Largo - Allegro agitato e appassionato assai)
  2. Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14: 2. A Ball (Valse. Allegro non troppo)
  3. Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14: 3. Scene in the Country (Adagio)
  4. Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14: 4. March to the Scaffold (Allegretto non troppo)
  5. Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14: 5. Dream of a Witches' Sabbath (Larghetto - Allegro)
  6. Hungarian March
  7. Trojan March
  8. The Corsair, Overture
  9. The Roman Carnival, Overture

Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Paul Paray, conductor
Date: 1959 (1-7) 1958 (8 & 9)
Label: Mercury


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Review

Berlioz's obsessional love-victim is here bullied into ungrateful sanity. Paray will brook neither melancholy lingering nor neurotic mood-swings: his is as severely organized a Symphonie as you're likely to hear anywhere, with the swiftest of ''Reveries—Passions'', an orderly Ball, an unceremonious ''Marche au supplice'' and a busy but fearless Witches' Sabbath. Only the ''Scene aux champs'' admits something of the atmosphere that's lacking elsewhere. There are no repeats, and no textural revelations, but I have to admit that it's all very exciting, even though the strings sometimes sound stretched to their limits, and a marked lack of flexibility tends to minimize the work's romantic prophecies. The fill-ups are brilliant in the extreme: the two overtures are played in a high-voltage, post-Toscanini fashion, but the ''Hungarian March'' doesn't really take flight until just before it ends.

The recordings are clear, clean and relatively dry, with a high but harmless hiss level and good channel separation. If you're in search of strait-laced, brisk and, above all, brilliant Berlioz, then Paray's lean-textured, bull-in-a-china-shop anthology will likely prove just the ticket.

-- Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=108962
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/Dec05/Berlioz_Paray_4756622.htm
http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/m/mrc756622a.php
https://www.amazon.com/Berlioz-Symphonie-Fantastique-Hector/dp/B000AC5B02

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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.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hector_Berlioz

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Paul Paray (24 May 1886 – 10 October 1979) was a French conductor, organist and composer. He is best remembered in the United States for being the resident conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for more than a decade and made numerous recordings for Mercury Records' "Living Presence" series. Paray specialized in the French symphonic literature, but he could and did conduct the entire orchestral repertoire well. One of his most renowned recordings is that of the Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3 in C minor "Organ" with organist Marcel Dupré, being among the most authoritative readings of the work.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Paray

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