Symphonie Fantastique Hybrid SACD
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Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique
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Ticciati draws on these elements with both discretion and vitality, placing them within a thoughtfully chosen spectrum of colour and within an interpretation that is conceived cohesively yet with the music's scenario sharply defined. With the overture to Béatrice et Bénédict as an agile encore, this is a performance of the Symphonie Fantastique that possesses both fantasy and symphonic strength, and let's hope it is the harbinger of more discs capitalising on the exciting artistic relationship that Ticciati and the SCO have forged. --Geoffrey Norris, The Telegraph - 12th April 2012
Few previous recordings of the Symphonie Fantastique will have used such a modest string section, but the transparency and lightness of touch Ticciati achieves is a real bonus. --Andrew Clements, The Guardian 6th April
A protégé of Colin Davis, Britain's rising young star conductor, Robin Ticciati, has lost no time in presenting his credentials as an outstanding Berliozian in his first recording as music director of the SCO. This is no carbon copy of perhaps the foremost interpreter of the best first symphony ever written . Indeed, this Fantastique is remarkable for its fresh insights into one of the great orchestral warhorses, available on disc in a multitude of versions. Only 28 when the recording was made last October, Ticciati is just a year older than Berlioz was when he completed the work, and he makes a strong case for regarding this ever-astonishing, hallucinatory symphony as a young man's music. The opening Rêveries Passions is especially dreamlike, impressionistic almost, and Ticciati makes much of Berlioz's revolutionary wind, brass and percussion writing in a March to the Scaffold that really makes the listener sit up: after the famous thwack of the guillotine blade falling, he pinpoints the pizzicato sound of the head falling into the basket, while the nightmarish sounds of the Witches Sabbath emerge in the most vivid colours thanks to the clarity of the string sound and the squealing high woodwinds. The veins of lightness he taps in the Waltz, and of melancholy in the Scène aux champs, also find their place in the delightfully airy account of the overture as an encore. Fantastique! --Hugh Canning, Sunday Times - Classical CD of the Week
Biographie der Mitwirkenden
Symphonie Fantastique continues to be one of the most popular early Romantic compositions with today's audiences. Robin Ticciati took up the position of Principal Conductor with the SCO from the 2009/10 season and opened the 2011/12 season with a blistering Berlioz programme hailed by the critics as compelling . Since then his profile has continued to build; in 2011 he was voted one of 'Tomorrow's Icons' by Gramophone and was announced as the next music director of Glyndebourne, taking over from Vladimir Jurowski in 2014. Symphonie Fantastique is the first in a series of Berlioz recordings undertaken by the SCO and Ticciati: a recording of Nuits d été and the Death of Cleopatra are planned for 2012.) The Scottish Chamber Orchestra is internationally recognised as one of the finest chamber orchestras in the world. The Orchestra has a large international fan base following recent performances in Spain, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, the USA, Portugal and the Netherlands.
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If one is looking for a performance that is generally well balanced between the four major sections of the orchestra (Strings, Woodwinds, Brass, and Percussion), this is a good performance and recording to get.
The conductor seems to strive for a lot more detail from the strings and woodwinds to describe the effects and paint the moods of the movements. Great use of and stressing from the lower strings in certain passages. Lots of finesse or refined playing from this ensemble. Especially on the more delicate passages.
The minor quibbles on the performance (or interpretation?) may be that it is a bit too conservative (light) and balanced in some sections of the (especially) latter movements. Could be the conductor's decision/interpretation or the orchestra's size and/or style. However; it is, after all, a Chamber orchestra. So this style could be just the right fit for many listeners.
Overall this composition seems rather well interpreted in musical manner and style. Which is generally among the most important aspects of things when listening. A bit conservative, but still plenty of detail and a good balanced overall performance.
Good sound from the two channel, but multi-channel has the added benefit of communicating a wider or more spatial presentation of the orchestra while giving better localization and focus of the musicians' layout.
(To me) It could use a bit more contrast between the calmer, sweeter, and lighter moments of the earlier movements to the heavier latter ones. Notice the word is Heavier. Not Louder. But, no doubt, this is among the better/superior performances/recordings to get regardless of time-frame or time-reference (older or newer). The conductor and orchestra add some unique and pleasurable detail, style, and interpretations to this "war horse!" There probably is no such thing as true perfection from any performance, but this is a great addition. Bravo!
For newer listeners and also Conductors, they can probably get a great sense of detail from this performance/recording to listen to how each of the sections interact with each other to build the mood and color that Berlioz intended to paint - and Conductors can build from there to add their own personal touches with their musicians.
If one would like to understand what is meant by "bit too conservative and balanced," for contrast, compare this performance/recording on LINN RECORDS (CKD 400) with the Zubin Mehta/New York Philharmonic performance on LONDON/DECCA (400 046-2), from over three decades ago, If it is still in print. There are other good ones, but I think it is an overlooked performance and recording that should be mentioned and kept around.
The link may change, but at time of posting this is the Amazon link (or one may have to search):
The above should be this link: Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique - Zubin Mehta / New York Philharmonic
At the recording link there should be a review with more detail to further compliment this one.
One caveat I would say for both of these performances/recordings (especially to the casual listeners): In my opinion, these are Not headphones music. Although they can be heard on headphones, these performances are meant to be listened to and enjoyed on good (and larger) sound systems.
February 2, 2015
After reading several positive reviews about the performance, I ordered it and listened. My initial reaction was that this is a competent contemporary performance--attentive to details and beautifully played. The Beatrice et Benedict overture seemed more like Mendelssohn than Berlioz. Well, what performances do I prefer? This sent me back to sample 15 or 20 of my older CDs. The two I like best are Paray (Detroit SO, 1959), which is also a very good, highly resolving, audio recording featuring a huge orchestral image; and the speedy 1954 Munch (BSO) recording (RCA SACD), which is a beautiful recording, though its transients are a bit blurred. In any case, I think both Paray and Munch more strongly outline the rhetoric of Symphonie Fantastique. This said, I continue to listen to the Linn recording with great pleasure. So, get this, and make sure you have another recording with full orchestra into which to occasionally sink.
There are other remarkable recordings you might try, including: Igor Markevich (1953, DGG, Mono, Berlin Phil); and Ataulfo Argenta (1958, Haydn House CD, Paris Cons. Orch)--in many ways a spectacular recording with great detail even though the highs are a bit hot, and some dynamic range compression or gain-riding is evident. These issues notwithstanding, the performance, which is no-nonsense and emphasizes the winds, is great. And perhaps the most convincing performance vis a vis this music's 'rhetoric' is Beecham (ORDF, 1961, EMI remaster).
My favorite the one from Michael Tilson (Blu Ray) from San Francisco Symphony http://www.amazon.com/Keeping-Score-Berlioz-Symphonie-Fantastique-Blu-ray/dp/B002SKF7GW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365537436&sr=8-1&keywords=Michael+Tilson+blu+ray
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