Notes and Editorial Reviews
Here at last is a complete recording of Berio's Sinfonia. Until now, this absorbing and bewilderingly complex work has been available only in the four-movement version that Berio himself prepared in 1969 for the first performance with the Swingle Singers and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (CBS 60259, 11/83; less than happily coupled with BartOk's Music for strings, percussion and celesta). Within a few months, Berio had completed a fifth and final movement which, though ostensibly an appendix, arguably stands as the apotheosis of the entire work; for it is genuinely a 'sounding together' (sinfonia) of the preceding movements, a rich sequence of reminiscences, just as the celebrated third movement leads us through memories of the
standard orchestral repertoire in a kind of stream of subconsciousness. To hear the work in its completed form is nothing short of a revelation, and for this reason alone Boulez's new performance must be said to supersede Berio's own.
In all other respects, it's difficult to make a choice between the two versions. A score as multilayered and rich in detail as this poses the engineers with problems that are literally insuperable, and it's hardly surprising that each recording has its own advantages and problems of balance. On the whole I prefer the marginally superior clarity of Berio's 1969 reading, in which the sound of the amplified voices merges subtly into the orchestral texture. In Boulez's recording, the distinction is often more marked, to the extent that in the third movement the dominant speaking role of the first tenor is perhaps overemphasized. Devotees of the work will probably find it helpful to have both versions; the newcomer, on the other hand, need have no hesitation in opting for Boulez, whose authority and sympathetic response to the score is evident throughout. To complete the record he has chosen one of Berio's less-familiar orchestral works, Eindriicke ("Impressions") of 1973-4. This is a complete contrast: a vast monody, projected by the string orchestra against the stuttering interjections and lingering trills of the wind and percussion, as stark and uncompromising a conception as is Stockhausen's Trans of three years earlier. Again, the reading is a powerful one. This is a most important issue. Buy it now, since all too often records of contemporary masterpieces are deleted almost as soon as they have appeared, and this one is far too good to miss.
-- Gramophone [2/1986]
Works on This Recording
Eindrücke by Luciano Berio
ORTF National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Sinfonia for Eight Voices and Orchestra by Luciano Berio
Régis Pasquier (Violin)
ORTF National Orchestra,
New Swingle Singers
Period: 20th Century
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