Author Topic: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14  (Read 36934 times)

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Offline MishaK

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #60 on: April 27, 2007, 01:17:34 PM »
Surely you will agree that Monteux was capable of discerning the "missing few ingredients" in the Munch performances that you claim exist. If he indeed did hear them, they apparently weren't important enough for him to withdraw his unqualified admiration for those performances. The recordings released after Monteuxs death have no bearing on that admiration. Simply put, if it was admired by Monteux, it's admired by me.

It would be far more relevant of an endorsement if we knew why Monteux admired Munch's recording. I, too, find many things admirable about it, but it doesn't make it a reference recording for me for the reasons I cited. An endorsement without supporting reasoning is not of much use, irrespective of the fame of the endorser. It is also interesting to note that while Monteux expressed admiration for Munch, his own approach to the work is diametrically opposite. So, I could likewise argue that Monteux's verbal endorsment finds no parallel musical endorsement in his own conducting of Op.14. Clearly, Monteux thought the piece should be performed quite differently himself.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2007, 01:32:28 PM by O Mensch »

Offline Iago

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #61 on: April 27, 2007, 09:25:34 PM »
So, I could likewise argue that Monteux's verbal endorsment finds no parallel musical endorsement in his own conducting of Op.14. Clearly, Monteux thought the piece should be performed quite differently himself.

Monteuxs last recordings of two of his "signature pieces" (the Symphonie Fantastique and Le Sacre Du Printemps) were made well before the recording of the Munch/BSO performance was recorded and released. In his latter years, Monteux laid aside those works which required exacting standards to conduct, as he felt that although his mind remained sharp as a tack, he was no longer physically up to the task of preparation of those scores. Perhaps. had he been physically up-to-it, he would have changed his musical approach to the SF, based on what he so admired in the Munch performances.
We will never know.
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Offline MishaK

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #62 on: April 28, 2007, 04:49:09 AM »
In his latter years, Monteux laid aside those works which required exacting standards to conduct, as he felt that although his mind remained sharp as a tack, he was no longer physically up to the task of preparation of those scores.

Just curious, what's your source for this? If he felt no longer up to the task, why did he optimistically accept a 25 year contract with the LSO at age 86?

Offline Iago

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #63 on: April 28, 2007, 10:27:37 AM »
Just curious, what's your source for this? If he felt no longer up to the task, why did he optimistically accept a 25 year contract with the LSO at age 86?

My source is my personal attendance at press conferences at Tanglewood, during which Monteux expressed those sentiments to his colleagues. And even though he accepted that 25 yr contract to lead the LSO, I believe he had NO intention of ever again performing the Symphonie Fantastique, Le Sacre or any other work that was excessively physically demanding.
You don't REALLY think that he expected to live out that contract, do you?
It was granted to him in recognition of his years of service to music, his marvelous musicianship and his veneration in the world of music.
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Offline Iago

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #64 on: April 28, 2007, 08:43:20 PM »
O Mensch,

   Was that "source" good enough for you or do you want tape recordings and DNA samples as well?
"Good", is NOT good enough, when "better" is expected

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #65 on: April 29, 2007, 01:11:04 AM »
One of my first ever LPs was a Monteux version of the Symphonie Farntastique. Sad to say, I can't remember which orchestra, but I have a feeling it was on Decca (Ace of Dimaonds?), had a cover photograph of a scaffold silhouetted against a stormy sky, and that the 3rd movement was spread over the 2 sides. My young ears were not at that time particularly critical, but it became one of my favourite records. More importantly it was the record that switched me on to Berlioz, and began my life long love of the music of Hector Berlioz.

I did have the Gardiner on CD, but I just couldn't get on with it. Admittedly that was in the days when I was somewhat allergic to HIP performances, but it wasn't the sound of the instruments that put me off. I'd read reviews saying how revolutionary it was, and how it gave the listener a fresh perspective on the piece, so I'm not sure quite what I expected. I certainly didn't expect to find it dull, but I'm afraid I did. . I eventually bought Myun Wha Chung's recording with the Orchestre de l'Opera Bastille, which is much more exciting and also had the benefit of introducing me to a work I didn't know (Duutilleux'x Metaboles).

« Last Edit: April 29, 2007, 06:08:55 AM by Tsaraslondon »
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Offline MishaK

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #66 on: April 29, 2007, 05:33:44 AM »
Was that "source" good enough for you or do you want tape recordings and DNA samples as well?

Wasn't questioning your integrity, just curious how you heard that. Did he say what in particular about the Munch he found compelling? Now, of course, you say this was in Tanglewood, so it would have been politically correct for him to praise the most recent noteworthy recording of the home band.

Hector

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #67 on: April 30, 2007, 05:44:26 AM »


Sure, but why not take Cluytens with the Conservatoire orchestra who accomplishes the same French authenticity but is emotionally so much more compelling and coaxes far better playing out of his orchestra than Beecham, and the Cluytens is live!

Except for the brass which have the unmistakeable not very French timbre of an American military marching band. They obliterate everything in their path in the last two movements. Sorry, I just can't warm to this recording. I also find Paray rather races through the first few movements. Of French conductors with non-French orchestras I would rather take Cluytens's protegĂ© PrĂȘtre conducting the Vienna Symphony on Teldec (early 90s) in the most stunningly virtuosic performance I have ever heard.

Sorry, I do not know the Cluytens. The only recording I have heard is the commercial recording he made with the Philharmonia which, as I remember, was a tad rushed.

I did say the Paray for the occasional airing. I would not put this forward as a first choice.

Offline JoshLilly

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #68 on: May 04, 2007, 09:55:35 AM »
I got to hear the Norrington recording; our pitiful local library amazingly had it. So I got the Gardiner one myself. I listened to both.

So um... ... ............... interesting weather lately, huh?

karlhenning

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #69 on: May 04, 2007, 09:57:11 AM »
Neither sang to you, eh?

Steve

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #70 on: May 04, 2007, 10:24:11 AM »
Having recently heard both the Norrington and the Gardiner, I was really attracted to the latter. The sound was markedly superior, and the tempi were correct and the orchesra! Which is always important when talking about Gardiner. Now there's a conductor that rarely lets me down.

Have you heard both of these recordings, Karl?

karlhenning

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #71 on: May 04, 2007, 10:53:26 AM »
Having recently heard both the Norrington and the Gardiner, I was really attracted to the latter. The sound was markedly superior, and the tempi were correct and the orchesra! Which is always important when talking about Gardiner. Now there's a conductor that rarely lets me down.

Have you heard both of these recordings, Karl?

Haven't heard the Norrington recently;  though as I mentioned earlier, back when it was brand new, it opened my ears and renewed my interest in the piece -- and, it might be argued, was my own private Gateway to Berlioz  :)

A friend has lent me the Gardiner, and I really ought to give it a spin.

Greta

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #72 on: November 19, 2007, 01:31:27 PM »
My interest in more recordings of the Symphonie fantastique has been revitalized after the searing performance I saw recently with Dutoit and Verbier...

I know I have two recordings of this, but one I can't find and don't remember what it is anymore...the only one I have ever really listened to is Dohnanyi with Cleveland (1989, London Records). I love it, the playing is incredible, excellent sound and dramatic interpretation, but then again I'm pretty imprinted by now...yet there are so many others out there...

It's great if the playing is fantastic, of course, but I love the dramatic, fiery performances, that also are able to nail the subtle, magical moments such as Un bal and the end of Scene aux champs. The ability to show extreme control, but also to let loose and dance on edge, especially in the last two movements.

A week later, the Dutoit performance I attended keeps coming to mind, at that time it seemed, and now still, nearly an ideal interpretation for me. I guess I should um, actually get his recording, though don't want to be disappointed in case it's not as risk-taking.

One thing I loved was the detailed way he shaped the phrases and the massive energy he worked up...the last two movements were totally involving, March to the Scaffold started off distant, mysterious, and the first timpani + orchestra hit was like someone suddenly reached out and grabbed you by the throat! Intensity in spades. I know it's hard, almost impossible - for a recording to really simulate a live performance like that, but occasionally some come along that do come close!

Jansons on DVD and Markevitch look intriguing, are there any others that one might recommend based on what I have? If it's historic, I would only be interested in pretty good sound (and reasonably good playing!), and otherwise just - passion, chemistry, and a great feel for Berlioz's wonderfully wild writing.

Offline MishaK

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #73 on: November 19, 2007, 03:36:14 PM »
Jansons on DVD and Markevitch look intriguing, are there any others that one might recommend based on what I have? If it's historic, I would only be interested in pretty good sound (and reasonably good playing!), and otherwise just - passion, chemistry, and a great feel for Berlioz's wonderfully wild writing.

Jansons/BPO on DVD is a live performance and it's fantastic. I'd place it at or near the top of available Op.14 recordings. Jansons also has an outstanding studio recording with the Concertgebouw on EMI that is available for so cheap, you can't go wrong in getting it. If you're interested in Markevich, I would advise on getting the 1953 mono BPO performance, not the later Lamoureux stereo. The former is just much better played and has much more atmosphere. One of my all-time favorites. Dutoit's OSM recording on London/Decca is excellently played, but unfortunately micromanaged to a fault. It just never catches fire, though there is nothing really wrong with it (Martinon/ORTF suffers from the same problem). Otherwise, why not revisit the clips from our last mystery performers comparison of Symphonie fantastique?

Offline Iago

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #74 on: November 19, 2007, 04:13:20 PM »
Just what the Doctor ordered.

"Good", is NOT good enough, when "better" is expected

BorisG

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #75 on: November 19, 2007, 05:27:44 PM »

karlhenning

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #76 on: November 19, 2007, 05:29:22 PM »
Oh, that one must be good, Boris!

I like the sound of the Munch very well, but don't require the DVD, thank you.

Offline Daverz

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #77 on: November 19, 2007, 05:53:13 PM »
Here's Mitropoulos's recording with the New York Philharmonic, I'm guessing from the late 1950s.  Very good stereo sound (but from an Odyssey LP, I don't have the 6-eye Lp).  VBR mp3 ~ 192K.

http://www.mydatabus.com/public/AlleyOop/berlioz_fantastique_mitropoulos.zip

Offline Iago

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #78 on: November 19, 2007, 06:44:39 PM »
I like the sound of the Munch very well, but don't require the DVD, thank you.

The photo of the Munch DVD was NOT meant for you. It was for Greta, who specifically asked for information about available DVDs. But in your usual pompous assed style, you think the whole world wants to talk to you.
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Offline FideLeo

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Re: Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique, Op.14
« Reply #79 on: November 20, 2007, 01:19:29 AM »
Having recently heard both the Norrington and the Gardiner, I was really attracted to the latter. The sound was markedly superior, and the tempi were correct and the orchesra! Which is always important when talking about Gardiner. Now there's a conductor that rarely lets me down.

Have you heard both of these recordings, Karl?

The Norrington as remastered by Toshiba-EMI in the Japanese reissue has much better sound than the original EMI.
I think the Gardiner could use much remastering as well - the acoustics were a bit hazy (the same on DVD), even if Berlioz premiered the piece in the same space.. 
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