This imaginative staging of Berlioz's dramatic symphony for chorus, soloists and orchestra relies heavily on the moving of massed choirs across a large stage. It has vivid lighting effects–rather too many of them using strobes–and monolithic multi-purpose sets, in particular a revolving glass drum which functions both as cinema screen and rostrum for singers, so that the final ride to Hell, for example, is sung by Mephistopheles and Faust above a cavalcade of projected horses, like the inside of a zoetrope. The three main soloists have voices on a scale that can compete with these flashy production values–White and Kasarova, in particular, sing at a level of intensity that would swamp anything less; the climactic seduction trio has rarely been sung so well or with such an overpoweringly polymorphous eroticism. Cambreling marshals his forces effectively, giving full rein to the work's showstoppers like the "Hungarian March" but not neglecting the subtler less kinetic Gluckian side of Berlioz's vocal writing. (Roz Kaveney)
…This is a performance that holds your attention from first note to last–a rare feat in this work. (Munch's later Deutsche Grammophon effort pales by comparison, both sonically and interpretively.) If you want this Berlioz Requiem (and you do), SACD is the way to hear it.
The nine-time Juno-winning Canadian James Ehnes is centre stage in a new recording of orchestral works by Berlioz, with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. This recording was made following an extraordinary concert in November 2014 with the same forces, in which James Ehnes played two instruments made by Stradivarius, respectively a viola in the solo part of Harold en Italie – ‘symphony with a principal viola part’, in Berlioz’s words – and a violin in the solo of Rêverie et Caprice, both of which works feature here.
…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.
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).
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.
Monumental operas deserve epochal stagings. And "Les Troyens" by Hector Berlioz is just such a work. This grand opera, complete with ballets, large choruses and orchestral set pieces, is just given the full treatment by famous Catalan theatre group La Fura dels Baus. Recorded at Valencia´s Palau de les Arts under the baton of the great Valery Gergiev, this coproduction with St. Petersburg´s Mariinski Theatre and Warsaw´s Wiekl Theatre is “such a feast for the eyes, a veritable orgy of optical opulence” that displays “this artist group´s sheer inexhaustible fund of imagination and creativeness” (Das Opernglas).