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Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique - SCO & Ticciati - Positive Feedback Online


01 July 2012
Positive Feedback Online
Karl Lozier

 

Berlioz is noted for a wide variety of compositions and often done in his own and often very unique way. He definitely does not copy other composers; the other way around is often true as he is often a bit ahead of his time. Things such as that may not be realized for a long time. Berlioz's life and career are extremely interesting as well as unique. If delving into a composer's life has ever interested you. I would suggest delving with Berlioz. Liner notes mention this work as his first symphony; I do not believe it. I have never seen that comment in print ever before; in fact I am not certain if he ever had a symphony published or performed though it could be called a "symphonic work". Berlioz introduced it as an "instrumental drama". Some writers compare it with Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony where a violent storm is whipped up. Berlioz takes the hero (himself?) from passion, in real life, an actress that from Britain comes to Paris and Berlioz becomes infatuated with her. Then his hero trying to commit suicide becomes a disaster as the drugs create a stupor and not death. The end comes with the famous (used in films/movies for pending doom) March to the scaffold and the beheading. After a number of listening sessions I would overall describe the performance as relatively elegant or almost sophisticated. I am not sure that is appropriate for this unique composition. A very high quality sound system reveals a smaller than usual group's slight thinness at times while revealing all facet's of the performers at a generally very high artistic performance level. Lesser audio systems may obscure much here. The recording itself, is an excellent SACD. The overture to Berlioz's last composition is excellent as is the entire opera with comedy, warmth and general appeal, Beatrice and Benedict. Les Troyens is often thought of as his masterpiece. My personal favorites are Harold en Italie (Harold in Italy) that is almost a beautiful concerto for viola, a rarity and when the mood strikes, the potent choral work La Damnation of Faust.


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