Berlioz was the first Romantic master of the orchestra. His music hasn't been surpassed in terms of sheer brilliance and accuracy of effect. This set includes all of the overtures, the Symphonie fantastique, Harold in Italy, the Royal Hunt and Storm from Les Troyens, orchestral music from The Damnation of Faust and Romeo and Juliet, and the completely insane Grande Symphonie funebre et triumphale. Davis achieved his reputation as a conductor as a Berlioz specialist, and he proves an expert advocate on behalf of this stimulating, bizarre, and totally original genius.
…His overwhelming natural affinity for French music made Charles Munch an ideal conductor for Berlioz’s swirling tour de force Symphonie Fantastique. Perfectly capturing the drama, romance & philosophical angst in which this masterpiece is marinated, Munch takes the Boston Symphony Orchestra on an epic journey of proportions only possible in the human heart & mind. A classic, reborn in vivid Living Stereo.
John Eliot Gardiner conducts his Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique through two concerts of Berlioz compositions. The 'Symphonie Fantastique' is an orchestral tour de force which is central to the repertoire of every major orchestra. It is performed here on original instruments in its original 1830s orchestration in the atmospheric old hall of the Paris Conservatoire where it was first heard. Also included is the first performance of the newly discovered 'Messe Solennelle' with the Monteverdi choir. Written when Berlioz was just 20 years old, it was thought lost until its rediscovery in 1992. The first performance of this large-scale Mass for 150 years was filmed in London's Westminster Cathedral. Gardiner's period-instrument orchestra gives characteristically idiomatic performances of these seminal works (which are also linked thematically, through Berlioz's extensive re-use of material from the Messe).
This is the most drugged-out performance of the work that you will ever hear, and it's accompanied by a delightful spoken essay (essentially word for word the same as appears in the "Young People's Concerts") that explores the highlights of the composer's opium-induced vision. –David Hurwitz; Classicstoday.com
"Alain Lombard is among the leading French conductors from the latter half of the twentieth century. He has held numerous prestigious positions both in the operatic and orchestral realms. Lombard is best known for his interpretations of French opera, particularly of Bizet's Carmen, Gounod's Faust and Romeo et Juliette, Delibes' Lakmé, and Massenet's Werther. He has also garnered notice for his Puccini and Verdi, as well as for instrumental works by Berlioz, Debussy, and Ravel. Lombard's repertory is hardly limited to French and Italian music, however, as it takes in chunks of Prokofiev, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mozart, and many others. He has made numerous recordings since the 1960s for a range of labels, including EMI, Elektra, Erato, Forlane, and Valois…"
Recorded in 2010 during Riccardo Muti's first subscription concerts as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's tenth music director, this new double-CD release pairs Hector Berlioz's beloved Symphonie fantastique with its sequel, Lélio, ou le retour de la vie (Lélio, or The Return to Life). Berlioz intended Symphonie fantastique to be followed by Lélio in concert, as the artist returns to life to comment anew on music and art. Maestro Muti and the CSO are joined in Lélio by the acclaimed actor Gérard Depardieu as the narrator, tenor Mario Zeffiri, bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen, and the Chicago Symphony Chorus. With the "conclusion and complement" of Symphonie fantastique, as Berlioz referred to Lélio, this recording increases listeners' familiarity with the music of a daring and revolutionary composer.