Hector BERLIOZ (1803 - 1869)
Symphonie Fantastique a. Op 14 [52.44]
Le Carnaval Romain.b Op 9 [ 8.39]
La Damnation de Faust c. Op 24 (Extracts) [12.13]
Réverie et caprice. d Op 8
Les Nuits d'été.e Op 7 [29.08]
La Damnation de Faust f Op 24 (excerpts) [24.50]
Requiem. g Op 5 (excerpt) [10.21]
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/ Herbert von Karajan a / Lorin
Boston Symphony Orchestra / Seiji Ozawa c
Arthur Grumiaux (violin). New Philharmonia Orchestra /Edo de Waart
Régine Crespin (soprano). L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/ Ansermet
Edith Mathis, Stuart Burrows, Boston Symphony Orch. / Seiji Ozawa
Luciano Pavarotti, Ernst-Senff-Chor, Berlin Philharmonic/James
Recorded: - 1974 (op 24), 1975 (op14), 1985 (op 9), 1992 (op 5), 1971 (op
8), 1963 (op 7) ADD (ops 7,8,14,24) DDD (ops 5, 9)
DG Panorama 469 118-2
The item on this Panorama release from DG that marks it out is its inclusion
of the Régine Crespin performance of Les Nuits d'été.
It goes back to 1963 and was a Decca production - old rivals are all one
nowadays so some borrowing clearly has taken place. The six songs are quite
lovely and Crespin's radiant, creamy tone along with her magical interpretation
makes this unforgettable. The recording has weathered well and the OSR under
Ansermet (a Decca stalwart for years I recall with his orchestra that was
never in the top flight but ever dependable) give excellent support. Of the
set Le Spectre de la rose and the mournful Absence are outstanding.
At £8 for the 2CD pairing it is obvious why, but it is still a shame
that a translation of the words could not have been included for the extra
insights that would have given. The track numbers and timings for "Sur les
lagunes" and "Absence" are wrongly printed in the accompanying booklet and
should be reversed.
The main work on the release is the von Karajan 1975 recording of the
Symphonie Fantastique. A man of his previous eminence with Deutsche
Grammophon must be turning in his grave to see his major recordings relegated
to mere portions of a cheap label twofer. Tempus fugit. This is an excellent
performance following a sluggish opening. Though it does not have the power
and drive of the classic Colin Davis recording this is a reading to enjoy.
The Berliners were in splendid form at the time and with a recording of near
demonstration quality for its date it will stand comparison with many current
versions. The strings were at their seductive best in Scéne aux
champs and the March to the Scaffold and the Witches
Sabbath were exciting enough for anyone - a tolling bell added to the
Dies Irae theme giving extra drama.
Fillers are always needed in this type of disc and the Berlin Phil, with
Maazel this time, gave a bravura version of the orchestral showpiece Roman
Carnival. Spread over the two CDs were extracts from the Damnation
of Faust, with three orchestral highlights including the Hungarian
March (Ozawa and the Boston Symphony in a noticeably different acoustic
from the Berlin recordings) and four vocal sections with Edith Mathis and
Stuart Burrows as fine soloists.
A delightful Romance for Violin features Arthur Grumiaux in ravishing
form. He has a rich, warm tone that entrances each time I come across his
recordings and here is at his best in this brief, richly romantic work. The
Sanctus from Berlioz' Requiem completes the disc. A cynic might
say that it's there to allow Pavarotti's name to be featured - but I wouldn't
dare. Actually he is in fine voice, inevitably sounding operatic, and with
an excellent chorus (showing up well in the fugal Hosanna in excelsis
) and the Berlin Phil again and Levine this is a worthwhile ending.
This Panorama release confirms the good value the label is offering. An excellent
double disc bargain - especially for Régine Crespin admirers.