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Thread: Berlioz Symphonies Fantastique

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Default Berlioz Symphonies Fantastique

    Extraordinary to think this incredible work was written by a 27 year old Frenchman just three years after the death of Beethoven. I’m listening to this at the moment - great performance - Fantastique in every way - and have quite a few others on my shelves.

    DABFB810-B60E-4B0D-90AE-F603DF6370D0.jpeg

    However I’d love to know what are your own particular favourites?
    Last edited by DavidA; Jan-25-2020 at 22:50.

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    Senior Member Bulldog's Avatar
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    One of my favorite symphonies - Abbado is my favored recording.
    Last edited by Bulldog; Jan-25-2020 at 23:05.

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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    Four of them with the choice depending on my mood

    Roth - Les Siecles - A brilliant new recording using original instruments
    Martinon - Orchestre National de l'ORTF - Has the optional cornet part but it is way too prominent, otherwise excellent
    Klemperer - Philharmonia - The first commercial recording using the optional cornet part, but done right!
    Barbirolli - SWR Symphony - Live performance. A delightful 'Bal' with a real Viennese swing. A tad slow in the last 2 movements but it makes them seem more like those slow-motion nightmares.

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    I've got a big soft-spot for this one.

    Berlioz_Ticciati_CKD400.jpg

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    I agree with you about the Bernstein performance. I also like Bernstein's "Harold in Italy" with violist Donald McInnes and the Orchestre de Paris on EMI, which was made around the same time. If you've not heard that performance, you might enjoy it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi3GzlMtUDc

    https://www.amazon.com/Berlioz-Harol...s=music&sr=1-3
    https://www.amazon.com/Berlioz-Symph...s=music&sr=1-5

    Otherwise, I've most liked Sir Colin Davis' recordings of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, especially his earliest recording with the London Symphony Orchestra and the later one with the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, both for Philips; as well as Charles Dutoit in Montreal, and Riccardo Muti in Philadelphia, among other top favorites.

    Sir Colin Davis:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hs-A7-h0wMM
    https://www.amazon.com/Berlioz-Colin...=dmusic&sr=1-1

    Riccardo Muti:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=471EVXBRUHs
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16mjlffLCjI
    https://www.amazon.com/Berlioz-Ricca.../dp/B000TGXIOU

    While historically, my top pick would be one of Igor Markevitch's three recordings, and here the choice comes down to either Markevitch's 1955 mono recording on DG: https://www.amazon.com/Berlioz-Symph...vw_txt?ie=UTF8, or his 1961 stereo recording for DG: https://www.amazon.com/Berlioz-Orche...=dmusic&sr=1-1.

    Markevitch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9t9NI8mVdI

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    Senior Member Kiki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    I've got a big soft-spot for this one.

    Berlioz_Ticciati_CKD400.jpg
    I like the Ticciati very much.

    Also like the two live recordings from François-Xavier Roth.


    Otherwise it's Dutoit/Montréal and Beecham/RTF that have cast an lasting impression on me. Strangely enough, I'm not so crazy about Norrington's nor Gardiner's.

    My soft spot is reserved for Daniel Harding's.

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    Senior Member Rogerx's Avatar
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    Sir Colin Davis Royal Concertgebouw orchestra / Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis/ Muti/ Orchestre Lamoureux, Paris, Igor Markevitch/ Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Paul Paray.
    Paray being No1
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” ― Mark Twain

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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    About 15 months ago I ran a blind comparison of the Symphonie Fantastique where the 5 performances were...

    A - Sir John Barbirolli / SWR Symphony (concert performance)
    B - Riccardo Muti / Chicago Symphony (concert performance)
    C - Charles Munch / Hungarian Radio Symphony (concert performance)
    D - Sir Thomas Beecham / French Radio Orchestra (ORTF) (studio performance)
    E - Rafael Kubelik / Bavarian Radio Sympony (concert performance)

    You can read the various comments here...

    Blind Comparison - Symphonie Fantastique

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    This is a shatteringly exciting version from Munch and the Boston Symphony

    EF94546C-4A81-44AD-A452-9F30C4486DA2.jpeg

    Now in a remastered edition. Some of these old stereo versions are simply amazing

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    Thankfully, there are several grand recordings of this. My favorites are with Ormandy/Philly (60's Sony and newer RCA), much because he uses very low-pitched tolling bells in the finale. Such atmosphere is generated.

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    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    I know I've said this before. I never "got" the piece - although I'd owned recordings by Davis and Munch among others - until I heard Paray.

    I picked up the Abbado recently, as part of his CSO box set, but I haven't gotten to it yet. I shall do so.
    Last edited by jegreenwood; Jan-26-2020 at 15:28.

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    Senior Member elgars ghost's Avatar
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    It's a work I enjoy very much. I love how graphic at all is - I imagine a deranged, wild-eyed Berlioz stomping about in his riding boots tearing at his cravat ha ha! That said, I've only the one recording - Colin Davis/Concertgebouw - and this has always sufficed.
    '...a violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in debt and disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man who has just closed half a century without a single claim on the gratitude of his country or the respect of posterity...' - Leigh Hunt on the Prince Regent (later George IV).

    ὃν οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν ἀποθνῄσκει νέος [Those whom the gods love die young] - Menander

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    I don't really have a favorite. I have Munch, Klemperer, Boulez, and Maazel/Cleveland on Telarc.

    I've thought about picking up the cheap Bernstein box of French music. Maybe later in the year. I bought a ton of stuff over the past two months.
    “Music makes you feel feelings. Words make you think thoughts. But a song can make you feel a thought.”

    - Yip Harburg

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    Both Soltis are outstanding - '72 and '92...
    so is Abbado/CSO

    Mitropoulos/NYPO '56 is an all-time favorite - really creepy, he gets into the macabre flavor of the final 2 mvts...

    Don't care too much for Munch, who recorded it many times...he tends to take the March too fast.....who would race to the guillotine?? the dotted rhythm figures break down. Also, Munch liked spontaneity, which is ok, but it often results in some sloppy execution....might have been exciting in live performance, but on recording, it becomes noticeably negative...

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    It probably doesn't rate with the obsessives at this site but I listen to my Telarc CD the most.
    “Music makes you feel feelings. Words make you think thoughts. But a song can make you feel a thought.”

    - Yip Harburg

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