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Robin Ticciati - Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra - Berlioz: L'enfance du Christ - AllMusic.com


21 December 2013
AllMusic.com
Blair Sanderson
4½ Stars

Robin Ticciati has established himself as one of the leading Berlioz conductors of his generation on the strength of three albums for Linn Records: Symphonie fantastique in 2012, Les nuits d'été and La mort de Cléopâtre in 2013, and the dramatic oratorio, L'enfance du Christ, also released in 2013. The most noticeable characteristics of Ticciati's interpretations are a lean, close-to-period orchestral sound, particularly in the strings, which are usually played senza vibrato, and a brusque, bravura style of attack to convey Berlioz's incisiveness and power. Yet as much as Berlioz is noted for his loud, bombastic pieces, a work like L'enfance du Christ is rather lacking in shock value and startling effects, as it communicates reverence, tenderness, and pathos through its generally quiet and plaintive music. Also,Ticciati isn't conducting the Scottish Chamber Orchestra here, as he had in his first two albums, but it's the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, which works hard at producing the distinctive sonorities Ticciati desires. Even so, the strings can't help using vibrato and lots of it, and that's good for listeners who crave a bit of lushness. This performance is quite attractive on the strength of the singing in the Scenes of Parts I and III, and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra Choir is warmly expressive in the work's most famous number, L'adieu des bergers. So even though this is not one of Berlioz's most sensational works, and not a showpiece for Ticciati, this audiophile recording is worth hearing for its subtlety and beauty.
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