John Eliot Gardiner conducts his Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique through two concerts of Berlioz compositions. The 'Symphonie Fantastique' is an orchestral tour de force which is central to the repertoire of every major orchestra. It is performed here on original instruments in its original 1830s orchestration in the atmospheric old hall of the Paris Conservatoire where it was first heard. Also included is the first performance of the newly discovered 'Messe Solennelle' with the Monteverdi choir. Written when Berlioz was just 20 years old, it was thought lost until its rediscovery in 1992. The first performance of this large-scale Mass for 150 years was filmed in London's Westminster Cathedral. Gardiner's period-instrument orchestra gives characteristically idiomatic performances of these seminal works (which are also linked thematically, through Berlioz's extensive re-use of material from the Messe).
Despite the efforts of conductors such as Roger Norrington and John Eliot Gardiner from the 1980s onwards, period instrument performances of Berlioz in general and the Symphonie Fantastique in particular are relatively rare on disc; currently, the only rivals to Jos van Immerseel's new version with his Bruges-based orchestra seem to be those by Gardiner and Norrington themselves. Immerseel's approach, his choice of tempi and phrasing, are relatively conservative – the account of the exuberant Roman Carnival overture is positively staid – but the raw edge that the period instruments bring to Berlioz's soundworld is often viscerally exciting, with a pair of ophicleides adding a feral growl to the brass bass lines.
…His overwhelming natural affinity for French music made Charles Munch an ideal conductor for Berlioz’s swirling tour de force Symphonie Fantastique. Perfectly capturing the drama, romance & philosophical angst in which this masterpiece is marinated, Munch takes the Boston Symphony Orchestra on an epic journey of proportions only possible in the human heart & mind. A classic, reborn in vivid Living Stereo.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner conducts the Monteverdi Choir, Choeur du Théâtre du Châtelet and Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique in a landmark recording of Berlioz's towering opera. A tragic tale of love and fate, war and peace and the intertwined destinies of two cities, the opera is based on Virgil's imperial vision of the founding myth of Rome. The American tenor Gregory Kunde as Aeneas and the Italian soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci lead an international cast in this stunning production.
This is the most drugged-out performance of the work that you will ever hear, and it's accompanied by a delightful spoken essay (essentially word for word the same as appears in the "Young People's Concerts") that explores the highlights of the composer's opium-induced vision. –David Hurwitz; Classicstoday.com
"Alain Lombard is among the leading French conductors from the latter half of the twentieth century. He has held numerous prestigious positions both in the operatic and orchestral realms. Lombard is best known for his interpretations of French opera, particularly of Bizet's Carmen, Gounod's Faust and Romeo et Juliette, Delibes' Lakmé, and Massenet's Werther. He has also garnered notice for his Puccini and Verdi, as well as for instrumental works by Berlioz, Debussy, and Ravel. Lombard's repertory is hardly limited to French and Italian music, however, as it takes in chunks of Prokofiev, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mozart, and many others. He has made numerous recordings since the 1960s for a range of labels, including EMI, Elektra, Erato, Forlane, and Valois…"
Recorded in 2010 during Riccardo Muti's first subscription concerts as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's tenth music director, this new double-CD release pairs Hector Berlioz's beloved Symphonie fantastique with its sequel, Lélio, ou le retour de la vie (Lélio, or The Return to Life). Berlioz intended Symphonie fantastique to be followed by Lélio in concert, as the artist returns to life to comment anew on music and art. Maestro Muti and the CSO are joined in Lélio by the acclaimed actor Gérard Depardieu as the narrator, tenor Mario Zeffiri, bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen, and the Chicago Symphony Chorus. With the "conclusion and complement" of Symphonie fantastique, as Berlioz referred to Lélio, this recording increases listeners' familiarity with the music of a daring and revolutionary composer.