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Berlioz: Complete Orchestral & Sacred Works / Colin Davis


Release Date: 09/03/2013 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 4804868  
Composer:  Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Nobuko ImaiJohn Shirley-QuirkPatricia KernRobert Tear,   ... 
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw OrchestraLondon Symphony OrchestraJohn Alldis Choir,   ... 
Number of Discs: 13 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

These performances have been packaged tons of different ways over the years, understandably so, for they are almost uniformly excellent and they represent iconic moments in Colin Davis’ career as a conductor. There is no question that he had a special feeling for Berlioz–not as feverish and manic as, say, Charles Munch, but you can’t suggest that he wasn’t attuned to the idiom. His Berlioz’ never sounds small, underplayed, or emotionally stunted. Consider the climax of the Lacrimosa in the Requiem, or the way Davis grinds out the closing bars of the first movement of the Grande symphonie funèbre et triumphale. This is the genuine article, no question about it.

Where multiple options are available, this set reveals smart
Read more choices. You get Davis’ Harold in Italy with violist Nabuko Imai and the LSO (his first was for HMV with Menuhin), his first Romeo and Juliet, and his second, Concertgebouw Symphonie fantastique (there were three in all for Philips). Despite the acclaim the latter recording has received, this is the one Berlioz work in which Davis has never impressed me–although this is his best edition of it. The performance is gorgeously played, but not crazy enough in the last two movements, and the sonics are dry, particularly in the bass. On the other hand, these versions of the Te Deum, L’Enfance du Christ, and The Damnation of Faust rank with the best, and the singers, including Janet Baker, Josephine Veasy, Thomas Allen, Shiela Armstrong, Jules Bastin, Nicolai Gedda, and José Carreras are consistently impressive.

I also like having the version of Les nuits d’été with multiple singers offering the songs in their original voice ranges–it provides so much more variety and contrast than we usually get in this work. Don’t you just hate it, though, when a big set promises “The Complete Orchestral and Sacred Works,” and then leaves something out, pointlessly. In this case it’s the first two movements of Tristia, plus a few other items. I can understand not including things the Davis never recorded (such as the early Mass or all of the Prix de Rome cantatas), but I am completely baffled by the omission of the rest of Tristia. Still, if you want the almost complete Berlioz without the operas, including all of the ballet music and overtures associated with them, then you can hardly go wrong with this thirteen disc set.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830; France 
2. Tristia, Op. 18 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831/1848; France 
3. Les troyens: Act 2 Prelude by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856-1858; France 
4. Harold en Italie, Op. 16 by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Nobuko Imai (Viola)
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1834; France 
5. Roméo et Juliette, Op. 17 by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  John Shirley-Quirk (Bass), Patricia Kern (Alto), Robert Tear (Tenor)
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1839; France 
Date of Recording: 04/1968 
Venue:  Wembley Town Hall, London, England 
Length: 96 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Language: French 
6. L'enfance du Christ, Op. 25 by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Philip Langridge (Tenor), Joseph Rouleau (Bass), Jules Bastin (Bass),
Eric Tappy (Tenor), Raimund Herincx (Bass), Thomas Allen (Baritone),
Richard Taylor (Flute), Francis Nolan (Flute), Dame Janet Baker (Mezzo Soprano),
Renata Scheffel-Stein (Harp)
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1850-1854; France 
Date of Recording: 10/1976 
Venue:  Watford Town Hall, London, England 
Length: 95 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Language: French 
7. La damnation de Faust, Op. 24 by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Josephine Veasey (Mezzo Soprano), Geoffrey Browne (English Horn), Nicolai Gedda (Tenor),
Gillian Knight (Mezzo Soprano), Alex Taylor (Viola), Jules Bastin (Bass),
Richard Van Allan (Bass)
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Ambrosian Singers,  London Symphony Chorus  ... 
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845-1846; France 
Date of Recording: 07/1973 
Venue:  Wembley Town Hall, London, England 
Length: 130 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Language: French 
8. Grande messe des morts, Op. 5 by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Ronald Dowd (Tenor)
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837; France 
Date of Recording: 11/1969 
Venue:  Westminster Cathedral, London, England 
Length: 90 Minutes 55 Secs. 
9. Te Deum, Op. 22 by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Franco Tagliavini (Tenor), Nicolas Kynaston (Organ)
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1849; France 
Date of Recording: 01/1969 
Venue:  Watford Town Hall, London, England 
Length: 52 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
10. Les nuits d'été, Op. 7 by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Josephine Veasey (Mezzo Soprano), John Shirley-Quirk (Bass), Sheila Armstrong (Soprano),
Frank Patterson (Tenor), Renata Scheffel-Stein (Harp), Roy Jowitt (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840-1841; France 
Date of Recording: 06/1969 
Venue:  Wembley Town Hall, London, England 
Length: 32 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Language: French 
11. Lélio, Op. 14bis by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Thomas Allen (Baritone), José Carreras (Tenor), John Constable (Piano)
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831-1832; France 
Date of Recording: 07/1980 
Venue:  Watford Town Hall, London, England 
Length: 35 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Language: French 
12. La mort de Cléopâtre by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Dame Janet Baker (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829; France 
Date of Recording: 03/1979 
Venue:  All Saints Church, Tooting, London, UK 
Length: 20 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Language: French 
13. Herminie by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Dame Janet Baker (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; France 
Date of Recording: 03/1979 
Venue:  All Saints Church, Tooting, London, UK 
Length: 22 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Language: French 
14. Mélodies irlandaises, Op. 2: no 4, La belle voyageuse by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Sheila Armstrong (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Date of Recording: 06/1969 
Venue:  Wembley Town Hall, London, England 
Length: 5 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Language: French 
15. Le chasseur danois, Op. 19 no 6 by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  John Shirley-Quirk (Bass)
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845; France 
Date of Recording: 06/1969 
Venue:  Wembley Town Hall, London, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Language: French 
16. La captive, Op. 12 by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Josephine Veasey (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1832; France 
Date of Recording: 06/1969 
Venue:  Wembley Town Hall, London, England 
Length: 7 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Language: French 
17. Le jeune pâtre breton, Op. 13 no 4 by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Frank Patterson (Tenor)
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833; France 
Date of Recording: 06/1969 
Venue:  Wembley Town Hall, London, England 
Length: 4 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Language: French 
18. Zaïde, Op. 19 no 1 by Hector Berlioz
Performer:  Sheila Armstrong (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845; France 
Date of Recording: 06/1969 
Venue:  Wembley Town Hall, London, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Language: French 
19. Le carnaval romain Overture, Op. 9 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1843-1844; France 
20. Le corsaire Overture, Op. 21 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; France 
21. Grande symphonie funèbre et triomphale, Op. 15 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; France 
22. Les francs-juges, Op. 3: Overture by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1826; France 
23. Le roi Lear Overture, Op. 4 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831; France 
24. Waverley Overture, Op. 1 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; France 
25. Les troyens: Ballet music by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
26. Béatrice et Bénédict: Overture by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1860-1862; France 
27. Benvenuto Cellini: Overture, Op 23 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1834-1837; France 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  3 Customer Reviews )
 Essential October 13, 2013 By Anthony G. (valley stream, NY) See All My Reviews "This box set is simply essential to any serious music lover. It should be one of the cornerstones of your collection. Buy it now for years of delight, beauty, and musical rapture." Report Abuse
 Incredible!! and affordable. October 8, 2013 By Jean-Pierre L. (Piedmont, QUÉBEC) See All My Reviews "Sir Colin has been one the most important defender of Berlioz music. His version of the orchestral works of the great french composer are simply the references for most of the works. This is a perfect complete orchestral and sacred works on the market and perhaps the only." Report Abuse
 An embarrassment of riches August 31, 2013 By Salvatore Pellitteri (Whiting, NJ) See All My Reviews "I've previously owned most of these recordings on vinyl but to have them on disc at such an affordable price is astounding. Bravo to Arkiv to offer such a wonderful collection." Report Abuse
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