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Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Herminie / Minkowski, Et Al

Release Date: 10/13/2009 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 93808   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Aurélia Legay
Conductor:  Marc Minkowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mahler Chamber OrchestraLes Musiciens du Louvre members
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique. Herminie 1 Marc Minkowski, cond; Aurélia Legay (sop); 1 Les Musiciens du Louvre; Mahler CO BRILLIANT 93808 (80:41 Text and Translation)

When this surfaced first in 2002 on Deutsche Grammophon, Fanfare ’s reviewer noted (in 27:6), “Coming from Minkowski—a heretofore-reliable provider of crackling Rameau Read more and zesty Offenbach—this finicking Fantastique is a surprising curiosity. Playing nearly an hour, it is among the longest on disc—bass heavy, every rest pregnant with portent, every part parsed as if it possessed contrapuntal import, every climax crushingly overloaded, its constant lingering rubato stultifying élan: there is hardly an oddment of the score untouched by this prim precision.” I believe he meant precisian —one who is precise. “Perhaps it was intended to convey an exquisite delirium, with every detail shaped to savor. The upshot, however, resembles less Furtwänglerian divination than a respiratory therapist’s prolonged ministrations—only in the final movement, carried away by its terrific impetus, does the treatment ‘take’ and the music begin to breathe on its own. How odd!” Envy’s an ugly sentiment, but—gee!—I wish I could write like that! “Herminie, on the other hand, comes across as the suspenseful balance of academic formulae and genuine passion that, as a prix de Rome cantata by Berlioz, it is—whipped up and dressed down with a crisp flair agilely crowned by Aurélia Legay’s thin, bright soprano. Sound is slightly recessed in a spaciousness wallopingly filled at climactic moments, while detail even in quieter passages looms with skin-tingling palpability. But for the acknowledgement that this is a live recording, you’d never guess. All told, perhaps this is something better than a mere curiosity, if less than consistently compelling. How curious are you?” Couldn’t have said it better, myself! The news is that this peculiar reading has been revived on bargain-priced Brilliant for an economical second hearing.

FANFARE: Adrian Corleonis
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Works on This Recording

Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Marc Minkowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mahler Chamber Orchestra,  Les Musiciens du Louvre members
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830; France 
Herminie by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Aurélia Legay (Soprano)
Conductor:  Marc Minkowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mahler Chamber Orchestra,  Les Musiciens du Louvre members
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; France 

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