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  • Berlioz: Harold In Italy / Le Damnation de Faust / Les Troyens (Essential Classics)
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Berlioz: Harold In Italy / Le Damnation de Faust / Les Troyens (Essential Classics)

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Audio CD, December 29, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

[Note: This product is an authorized CD-R and is manufactured on demand]

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Harold in Italy is a symphony with a prominent solo viola part. It was composed for and commissioned by Paganini, who never played it because the viola solos weren't flashy enough for him (Harold actually takes poison and dies in the finale, leaving the orchestra to finish without him). Though disappointed, Berlioz was mollified by the fact that Paganini paid him anyway. It's since become the composer's most frequently performed large orchestral work, first because there's so little good music for solo viola, and second because it's well within the financial resources of most orchestras, the instrumentation being substantial but not ridiculous. This budget-priced performance is both loving and expert, while the couplings are well-chosen. --David Hurwitz

1. Harold en Italie (Harold in Italy), symphony for viola & orchestra, H. 68 (Op. 16): Harold in the Mountains
2. Harold en Italie (Harold in Italy), symphony for viola & orchestra, H. 68 (Op. 16): March of the Pilgrims
3. Harold en Italie (Harold in Italy), symphony for viola & orchestra, H. 68 (Op. 16): Serenade
4. Harold en Italie (Harold in Italy), symphony for viola & orchestra, H. 68 (Op. 16): Orgy of the Brigands
5. La Damnation de Faust, for mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, bass, chorus and orchestra, ('légende dramatique') H. 111 (Op. 24): No 1:
6. La Damnation de Faust, for mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, bass, chorus and orchestra, ('légende dramatique') H. 111 (Op. 24): No 2:
7. La Damnation de Faust, for mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, bass, chorus and orchestra, ('légende dramatique') H. 111 (Op. 24): No 3:
8. Les Troyens, opera, H. 133a: Marche Troyenne
9. Les Troyens, opera, H. 133a: Royal Hunt And Storm

Product Details

  • Performer: Joseph de Pasquale
  • Orchestra: Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris
  • Conductor: Eugene Ormandy, Daniel Barenboim, Charles Munch
  • Composer: Hector Berlioz
  • Audio CD (December 29, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Classical
  • Run Time: 72 minutes
  • ASIN: B0000028WU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,096 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Michael Brad Richman HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on August 17, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Sony Classical has the "Harold In Italy" market cornered. This recording by Ormandy/Philadelphia, along with the "Bernstein Century" version, are no question the best available on CD. I personally find the Bernstein a notch ahead because I love the dramatic readings he brings to most of his recordings. With that being said, there are several reasons why many should opt for this one nonetheless. First, the price can't be beat -- it's a budget line title. Second, you get more music here. On the Bernstein Century you get one extra piece, "La Mort de Cleopatre," where as here you get two, excerpts from both "La Damnation de Faust" and "Les Troyens." Finally, the "Les Troyens" excerpts are performed by conductor Charles Munch, one of the truly great intepreters of Berlioz, as his recording of "Symphonie Fantastique" on RCA Living Stereo remains the quintessential version. In all, you just can't go wrong with this purchase.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jacques COULARDEAU on July 31, 2003
Format: Audio CD
In 1833, Berlioz joins the mythical and poetical character of Childe Harold, developed by Lord Byron, to his own recollections of Italy and to his vision of a world of strife, struggle and love. But he uses his music to create atmosphere and character. So Harold becomes the viola and the viola gives Harold a depth and a liveliness that no other instrument could, an instrument both very flexible and gathering some male accents from its dense and reverberating qualities.
Berlioz transforms the symphony into a story, an adventure, an epic going beyond all that had been done before him, particularly by Beethoven, to reach a level of pure dramatic story telling and saga singing. He thus also goes back to old human practices. That of telling the myths that have shaped humanity and history. That too of imagining the power of a character, a hero that transforms and influences the course of historical events. The symphony joins thus both an epic myth and a poetic vision. It aims at embodying the desire of the composer to change the world and his fear or even utter awe in front of a world that is not able to change fast enough. And here the viola becomes Berlioz himself, Harold is Berlioz, Berlioz is Byron, Berlioz's music is Byron's poetical harmony. This music willfully takes part in the building of modern man's conscience, the conscience of the modern world, of the new age emerging from history. The pilgrims are henceforth the artists and their creations walking in a world of thieves and yet aiming at dragging this world to a higher stage of civilization. Berlioz is a progressive moralist of human change.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University of Perpignan
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By richard mullany on September 5, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This is a fine release! I have this and also another winner.The BSO/Munch/Primrose 1958 RCA release. This offers a different coupling,"Symphony on a French Mountain Air" by D'Indy with the pianist Nicole Henriot Schweitzer. Both cd's will earn their keep. This music would be a good place for the newcomer to start exploring Berlioz, one of the most fascinating composers who ever lived, how his life has escaped Hollywoods notice is beyond me. His music is so individual that after a few years of exposure it is easily identified by it's sound. orchestration, and use of modulation. In the old days there were two conductors who knew their way around Berlioz: Beecham and Munch. You can't go wrong fifty years later than to go with either of them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Moore TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 1, 2014
Format: Audio CD
I have half a dozen recordings of this piece, one of the most typical of Berlioz's eclectic, mercurial style. There is a wonderful recording by the principal violist of the Berlin Philharmonic Heinz Kirchner playing in immaculate, Romantic style under Markevitch's expert direction, but the mono sound from 1955 is slightly constricted and papery, so I am concentrating on three famous versions: Munch and Primrose, Ormandy and de Pasquale and Inbal and Bashmet.

It is difficult to say whether "Harold in Italy" is a concerto or a symphony; it starts as one and finishes as the other, with the solo viola sidelined and merely commenting and reminiscing in the last movement, reprising preceding themes. Of course, the Byron myth appealed immensely to Berlioz; he conflates it with a typically highly romanticised account of his own life journey as a picaresque tale full of heroism, adventure, romance and melancholy. (Incidentally, the writer of the notes to the Ormandy disc is wrong in ascribing Byron's death to combat in Greece; he died of a fever and probably sepsis, not in battle.)

Let me say immediately that I like all three and all have obvious merits. Even the most recent, digital version (Inbal) is from 1988, whereas the Munch is from 1958 and the Ormandy from 1965. Nonetheless, they are all three in fine sound; the slight hiss on the earlier two is negligible. It seems strange to think that nearly all the musicians featured in those Munch and Ormandy recordings will now be playing harps, yet - and here I might as well put my cards on the table - the earliest from 65 years ago remains my favourite and the clarity of the stereo separation remains startling.
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