Notes and Editorial Reviews
This recording features Berlioz's 'Symphonie fantastique' with its sequel 'Lelio' presented as Berlioz intended. Actor Gerard Depardieu is the narrator in 'Lelio', and Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as part of their 120th season, give vibrant and dynamic performances of both works.
Riccardo Muti introduces the work Berlioz viewed as his signature artistic statement: the evening-long pairing of his most famous composition, the 'Symphonie fantastique', long a staple of the Chicago orchestra's repertoire, and its little-known sequel, Lélio, never before performed by the CSO. Berlioz wrote Lélio as the "conclusion and complement" of the earlier work's tortured tale, a response to the
symphony's cliff-hanger ending, and, above all, a testament to the healing power of music. Together, they formed the 'Episode in the Life of an Artist', a daring mix of autobiography and fantasy. Even during Berlioz's lifetime, 'Lélio' was rarely performed with its companion, and, only once, in a performance staged by fellow pioneer Franz Liszt in 1855, did Berlioz see his complete dramatic work presented as he envisioned it. This new recording, from live semi-staged performances, attempts to recreate the essence of Berlioz's own concept-moving from the realm of instrumental drama in the first half, to theatre in the second, as an actor takes the stage to tell Berlioz's tale, while a simple scrim separates reality and creative fantasy-and draws a temporary line between a modern-day Chicago audience and the daring sounds of Berlioz's imaginary world.
"from the moment he cued the orchestra's flutes and clarinets, in the opening of Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique," at the start of the Saturday evening performance, to his final downbeat.....at the end of the Sunday afternoon concert, worries about the state of American orchestras and those who lead them disappeared... Gérard Depardieu gave an alternately manic and depressed reading of the narration, in French. Mario Zeffiri sang the tenor arias with a sweet fluidity, and the bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen gave a strong account of the "Song of the Brigands." In the larger pieces, particularly the fantasy on Shakespeare's "Tempest," the orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Chorus were solid and supple."
– New York Times Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14 by Hector Berlioz
Kyle [Bass-Baritone Vocal] Ketelsen (Bass Baritone),
Mario Zeffiri ()
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1830; France
Venue: Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center
Length: 54 Minutes 7 Secs.
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