Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Etc

Bychkov has a fine ear for the textures, and the Orchestre de Paris has acquired a particularly warm, rich sound under him: the woodwind are beautifully blended (with a graceful cor anglais in Carnaval romain), and the brass strong and sonorous (with horns that seem to have abjured the old French vibrato). The recording supports these qualities. Bychkov is flexible in phrasing, and almost always makes this flexibility eloquent.

It is a little overdone in the Ball, but beautifully apt to the long, arching curves and irregular phrasing of the idee fixe itself. This whole first movement is beautifully played, as, with rich but lucid textures, is the "Scene aux champs". The rhythmic attack of the "Marche au supplice" does not have quite the menacing tread or other versions, but there is plenty of sinister atmosphere in the Witches' Sabbath.

There are dozens of discs of the symphony to choose from, but those looking for a modern orchestra version would do well to listen to this one before deciding. --JW, Gramophone

MP3 320 · 132 MB

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