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Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Lelio / Pierre Boulez


Release Date: 01/03/2012 
Label:  Sony   Catalog #: 64103   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Hector Berlioz
Performer:  John Shirley-QuirkJohn MitchinsonJean-Louis BarraultStuart Burrows,   ... 
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony OrchestraLondon Symphony ChorusNew York Philharmonic,   ... 
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 3 Hours 20 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Some of Boulez's finest Berlioz performances are gathered together in this very welcome compendium. Symphonie fantastique is given a terrifyingly formidable performance.

Some of Boulez's finest Berlioz performances are gathered together in this very welcome compendium. Not the least of the pleasures is the association of the Symphonic Fantastique with its pendant Lelio: they are not a required coupling, of course, but there is a special pleasure in hearing the unforgettable tones of Jean-Louis Barrault (he who once memorably played Berlioz on film) as he revives after the drug-induced nightmare. Barrault speaks so beautifully that the ramshackle concoction of some very mixed inspirations becomes a rich Berliozian
Read more experience. The symphony is given a formidable performance, terrifyingly formidable in the measured tread of the "March to the Scaffold", somewhat too much so where the waltz should charm, even if ironically, and making a morose landscape of the "Scene aux champs". But it is a sustained and valid performance which does not seek to make the work into a vehicle for personal virtuosity (as in different ways so many conductors have done), and conjures up Berlioz's dark romantic vision.

As can be seen, the Nuits d'ete songs are shared. Berlioz first wrote them for mezzo-soprano or tenor and piano, then rewriting them to some extent and transposing the first three for the orchestral vision, probably because he then had particular singers in mind or each song. Boulez keeps to the orchestral version of the key sequence (which not all do) and divides them equally between male and female voices. So Stuart Burrows sings a fresh. lively "Villanelle", and this is followed by Yvonne Minton's richly phrased "Spectre de la rose" and "Sur les lagunes" (in which she takes, successfully, the option of a low F). Burrows returns for "Absence", which he sings admirably, though without stifling regrets that this of all songs might have suited Minton and the mezzo-soprano timbre (many will remember Janet Baker here). He also sings "Au cimetiere", leaving Minton to finish the cycle off with her warm performance of "L'ile inconnue". There can be no question or an authentic version when Berlioz left so many options open; this is a compromise, and even if one may have other preferences, it works well. Yvonne Minton goes on to show not only a fine voice but fine musicianship as she sustains Boulez in holding La mort de Cleopatre together so well. Berliozians will recognize one or two familiar ideas in this remarkable piece. notably one that was to serve again in Benvenuto Cellini, whose overture is given a sharp, vigorous performance here.

-- Gramophone [3/1995]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Lélio, Op. 14bis by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  John Shirley-Quirk (Baritone), John Mitchinson (Tenor), Jean-Louis Barrault (Spoken Vocals)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831-1832; France 
2.
Béatrice et Bénédict: Overture by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1860-1862; France 
3.
Les troyens: Royal hunt and storm by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
4.
Les nuits d'été, Op. 7 by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Stuart Burrows (Tenor), Yvonne Minton (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840-1841; France 
Language: French 
5.
La mort de Cléopâtre by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Yvonne Minton (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829; France 
6.
Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830; France 
7.
Benvenuto Cellini: Overture, Op 23 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1834-1837; France 
8.
Le carnaval romain Overture, Op. 9 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1843-1844; France 

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