Notes and Editorial Reviews
*** This title is a reissue of a Japanese release with liner notes in Japanese. ***
R E V I E W S:
This is a far more imposing Symphonie fantastique than the one Ormandy recorded earlier for Sony. Here the Philadelphia Orchestra's playing is simply amazing, each soloist and section giving virtuoso performances as Ormandy vividly renders every instrumental color, timbre, and combination in the score, reveling in the composer's orchestral ingenuity and innovation. He was never big on the music's fantasy and romance (he's a bit stingy with rubato in the first movement); for that you have to look to Bernstein, Munch, or Muti. But, like Beecham, Ormandy goes for the big sound and lets his band play full-out.
Factor in Max Wilcox's reverberant, wide-ranging recording and you've got one of the loudest Symphonie fantastique's on disc (most of the finale sounds like the Tuba mirum from Berlioz's Requiem).
Ibert's Escales goes to the other extreme with the Philadelphia strings making seductively silken sounds in the opening Rome movement--but Ormandy fans the flames anew in the vibrantly dancing Valencia finale. Last comes Berlioz's gargantuan arrangement (repeated seemingly ad infinitum) of the traditional "La marseillaise", replete with militaristic brass and percussion and the fervent singing of the Philadephia Orchestra Chorus. The 1970s recordings, remastered by RCA Japan, feature enhanced clarity, presence, and impact. Available on-demand from Arkivmusic.com.
--Victor Carr Jr, ClassicsToday.com
This 1976 reading is Ormandy’s third recording of the Symphonie fantastique; it is missing from the discography of the orchestra in the commemorative volume, “The Philadelphia Orchestra: A Century of Music.” If not as electric as Bernstein’s New York version, or the five by Pierre Monteux, it is a mainstream interpretation (except for cornet parts played an octave higher than indicated at the climax of the first movement, and rewritten entirely in the “Marche au supplice”), superbly played. The difficult cross rhythms near the end of the “Witches’ round dance” are as clear and accurate as in any performance I know. The sound, typically for the series, is somewhat more distant than we are used to from Ormandy’s Columbia recordings, but is overall quite good. Escales, the title work in identical mono and Columbia stereo LP collections, is a showpiece for principal flutist Murray Panitz and oboist John de Lancie, recorded in 1970. Berlioz’s version of La marseillaise is eight-and-a-half minutes long, and couldn’t be by anyone else.
Fanfare: Richard A. Kaplan
Works on This Recording
Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14 by Hector Berlioz
Written: 1830; France
Date of Recording: 12/16/1976
Escales by Jacques Ibert
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1922; France
Date of Recording: 2/1970
Chant de guerre pour l'armée du Rhin "La marseillaise" by Claude-Joseph de Lisle
Philadelphia Orchestra Chorus
Written: 1792; France
Date of Recording: 3/23/1972
Notes: Arranger: Berlioz
Featured Sound Samples
Symphonie fantastique (Berlioz): V. Dream of a Witches' Sabbath
Escales (Ibert): I. Rome - Palermo
Chant de guerre pour l'armée du Rhin "La marseillaise" (de Lisle)
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