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Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Etc / Paray, Detroit So


Release Date: 10/11/2005 
Label:  Mercury Living Presence   Catalog #: 000530436   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Paul Paray
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

R E V I W S




There’s no shortage of fine Fantastiques on the SACD market, notably those of Lorin Maazel and Paavo Järvi, both on Telarc. If RCA ever gets around to an SACD reissue of the old Munch/Boston Symphony recording, that’ll be the ne plus ultra , but meanwhile here’s an excellent version from the Munch era, Paul Paray’s 1959 traversal with the Detroit Symphony for Mercury Living Presence.


Paray’s readings were Read more usually a little breathless but unfailingly exciting, and speed did not come at the expense of phrasing, articulation, or pointed rhythm (indeed, the opening bars of the second movement here throb too precisely for the sake of the atmosphere). Paray moves swiftly but emotively through the first movement, without pausing for an exposition repeat. Then he carries the drama through the waltz, rather than treating it as a pleasant interlude. Paray maintains all the necessary tension here, where too many conductors are content to be merely lilting and cheerful. Paray also maintains the dramatic thread through the slow movement, keeping it full of foreboding and restlessness, with the woodwind solos making unusually biting attacks at the beginnings of some phrases. The last two movements, as expected, are played to the hilt.


So are the shorter pieces. The Roman Carnival overture is particularly rambunctious, and the marches proceed at a just concert tempo, quicker than a true processional, but not hard-pressed, and with clarity of every voice in the musical layers.


As usual in the Paray period, the Detroit strings lack sheen and smooth tone, but they and the rest of the orchestra have all the intense nimbleness that Paray, like Toscanini, required. The 1959 Cass Technical High School recording of the symphony enjoys a little more air than the slightly earlier recordings of the fillers at Old Orchestra Hall, which lie atop a barely audible bed of hiss. It’s easier now to hear Paray humming at a few points, but in compensation the over-bright Mercury timbre has been tamed; the SACD is not fatiguing to hear, unlike its predecessors (or the 1990s CD re-mastering on another of this disc’s layers). This is an exciting reissue.


FANFARE: James Reel
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Works on This Recording

1. Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Paul Paray
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830; France 
2. La damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Rákóczy March by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Paul Paray
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845-1846; France 
3. Les troyens: Trojan March by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Paul Paray
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
4. Le carnaval romain Overture, Op. 9 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Paul Paray
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1843-1844; France 
5. Le corsaire Overture, Op. 21 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Paul Paray
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; France 

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