Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique /ORR * Gardiner CD
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Top Customer Reviews
With Gardiner's period-instrument recording of the Berlioz Fantastique, we find ourselves a part of the music's interesting world that fascinated the Parisian audience at its premiere. Recorded in the original venue of its 1830 world premiere, it proves, along with Gardiner's companion Polygram recording of the complete Beethoven symphonies, that period performances need not be anaemic and boring, including this one, especially when this performance has a high voltage and bings the cork cohesively. The suspenseful, spellbinding and peerless playing of the Orchestre Revolutionaire et Romantique is enough to give Roger Norrington's London Classical Players a run for their money, and every small detail shines through perfectly. The admittedly dry accoustic, which seems like a menace to some, shows its positive side here by allowing this to happen, and the Philips engineers have risen to the challenge of producing perfect srecorded sound within such accoustics.
Gardiner sets the romantic tone of the piece with his opening Reveries, showing the wide range of emotions in the artist in relation to his unattainable beloved. When he reaches the main Allegro section, he gives the movement ample forward thrust and impetus, and brings out both the hysteria and the sweet innocence of the idee fixe at the same time. The Ball sequence that follows sways with a lyrical edge and, though the period violing may lack the full sweetness of modern-day instruments today, it is still an enjoyable listen, especially when it contains the cornet obligato. For the next part of the work, the performance quietens down with the onset of the Scene in the Country.Read more ›
That Frenchman was of course Hector Berlioz, and his work that received its premiere on December 5, 1830 was his Symphonie fantastique. And, if you had been one of the concertgoers at this premiere, as you proceeded to your seat, you would take in the vista of an orchestra whose likes (and size) you had never seen before, one with four harps across the front, a battery of timpani arrayed across the rear, and, as well, a number of woodwind and brass instruments never before seen in such an ensemble. An unusually young man with an unruly mop of red hair would take the podium, thence to lead the orchestra in a near-hour-long work that would affect the course of musical history for a century to come. The work would be an instant success, and young Berlioz, unruly red mop and all, would become an overnight celebrity as a result.
What John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique have endeavored to do in this recording is nothing less than to recapture the excitement of that premiere, right down to details such as the actual performance venue and the incorporation of period instruments used by Berlioz then but seldom since.Read more ›
To me, it all adds up to the recommendation that this should not be anyone's first or only recording of Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique. To me, this is a somewhat close acoustic of a performance that tries to let the music speak for itself. Read on to see why I recommend this recording.
When I had my first glass of dry Bordeaux wine, I thought "how could anyone really like this stuff? Anyone who says they do is posturing!" But my more experienced friends urged me to "try it a few more times and you'll develop a taste for it". There are some people who are used to very sweet wines and beverages. Should they *have* to "try it a few more times"? Those of us who know what it's like to develop a taste for dry, tannic, oaky red wines would heartily answer "yes!". We're never happy with "I know what I like, and I like what I know".
I don't mean to imply that the negative reviewers here are inexperienced or closed minded. Clearly that is not the case.
I worked in record stores while in college in the early 70s. At that time the "authentic" or "original instruments" movement was nascent, with people like Nikolaus Harnoncourt and his Concentus Musicus, and Gustav Leonhardt and others screeching away at old violins, blatting it out on sacbutts, and coaxing tinny cembalos or pianofortes.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well, finally, a recording of the "Symphonie Fantastique" that makes sense to me! That it never did before was certainly largely my fault, since I had trouble following the... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Stanley Crowe
Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique or Fantastic Symphony if you are insecure pronouncing French words, was a revolutionary symphony. They take a gutsy approach to it should be expected. Read morePublished on October 19, 2013 by Kevin Sinnott
I'm so happy I got this disk. It's the best performance of Berlioz'famaous symphony I ever heard. Best Rating! No Doubt.Published on November 28, 2012 by Freyr Schuster@gmx.de
Much has been made of the effect period instruments make in performance. According to the advocates of so-called "Historically Informed Performances" (HIP), music sounds best when... Read morePublished on February 2, 2011 by Marc A. Mojica
This a terrible recording in every way. First of all, what a bad, dry sound! I wonder how Gardiner did accept it. Read morePublished on October 8, 2007 by someone
Reading David Cairns's magnificent Berlioz biography got me listening to a lot of his music of late, including the several recordings of the Fantastique that I own. Read morePublished on December 29, 2006 by MartinP
I bought this disk mainly because of my admiration for Gardiner and the Orchestre's recording of the Beethoven symphonies. Read morePublished on February 14, 2006 by J Koenigen
I won't repeat a lot of the comments of the other reviewers (except to agree with them), but Gardiner gets into the "story" of this music better than anyone. Read morePublished on October 1, 2005 by Dr. Ray
This is simply the best Berlioz Symphony Fantastique I have ever heard, recorded in 1991 at the same location and with the
same instruments of its premiere in Paris in... Read more