Having covered for S&H most of Sir Colin Davis's
Odyssey 2000 at The Barbican, it is a pleasure to report
that this concert performance (which I had to miss) sounds uncannily close
to the sound from a good stalls seat there. The performances of both works
are as lithe and vivid as one would expect, with a marvellous balance between
the classical underpinning and Berlioz's avant-garde imaginativeness,
which has one checking the symphony's date (1830-32) with disbelief. The
rich tone quality and responsiveness of the LSO strings was especially notable,
but everything else falls perfectly in place. One is swept up in the experience
and it really is like having a whole orchestra welcomed into one's sitting
room. The recording was made in the concert performances of 27 & 28 September
2000 (the Overture taken from the complete opera concert performance
LSO 0004). The presentation of LSO Live
has improved since the label's launch. There are excellent illustrated notes
by Berlioz's biographer David Cairns.
The recording engineer for LSO Live, Tony Faulkner, has kindly shared some
of his secrets:
"The LSO Live recording philosophy is one of using as few microphones
as is practicable to try to capture concert atmosphere without the boring
obsessive so-called detail of many digital-age orchestral studio recordings.
The philosophy extends to avoiding days of patching sessions after the sessions
to cover minuscule details in performance. The orchestra stays behind after
the second performance of each programme for thirty minutes. During this
period we re-record any odd disaster areas (usually down to hall extraneous
noises - I guess you heard about Sir Colin's Symphonie Fantastique first
night) and also the last few bars of any section where intrusive audience
reaction would outstay its welcome upon repeated listening to the CD. Believe
me, a 30 minute session does not allow any accommodation of trying to create
a studio performance rather than that of a public concert.
The miking on the
was simple. A main pair over the third row of the audience. A pair of outriggers
at lower level to control the perceived width of the front of the orchestra.
Additionally we put out a pair of woodwind microphones "just in case", plus
a mic near the timps. By modern standards this constitutes quite a modest
Collectors should have more than one version of the Symphonie
fantastique; one Colin Davis recording (this or another) certainly, and
a second one with a period orchestra (Sir Roger Norrington's revelatory South
Bank weekend with the London Classical Players exploring Berlioz culminated
with the Fantastic, which they went on to record
VIRGIN VM5613792 ).
Peter Grahame Woolf