Possibly the most Fantastique version ever of this Symphonie
J-c | Canada | 07/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"CHARLES MUNCH, arguably the most competent and inspired conductor for the music of Berlioz, is at his best in this most impressive collection: Some of the 'Overtures' are given in near definitive versions (such is the case with stunning renditions of the 'Corsaire' and also of the 'Carnaval Romain' - probably the finest recording the work has received). And what about this monumental Fantastique? Here the symphony rises at one of its summits and the BSO's powerful dedication is a delight. The luminous fragility of the first movement, as well as the tension and dark visions of the 'Scaffold' and 'Witches' are revelatory. How great this recording is! One of the first records I bought (years ago) in the field of 'classical music' was an LP of the Fantastique with Munch/BSO - in their excellent 1954 version for RCA. Of course, on record the choice is, well, fantastique... For example, through the years Munch appears on nearly a dozen of different recordings (the 'worst' of them is at the very least a 'good' one)! But who really makes the steam come out of this warhorse (if you're ready to trust my taste and my ears, then perhaps I should add a subjective list of favourites, in order of preference):
Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique
1. Munch; Boston; 1962 (RCA/BMG)*****
2. Argenta; Paris; 1957 (Decca)****
3. Munch; Orchestre National de France; 1963 (Valois/Auvidis)****
4. Paray; Detroit; 1958 (Mercury)****
5. Kojian; Utah Symphony; 1982 (Reference Recordings)****
6. Bernstein; New York; 1963 (Sony)****
7. Munch; Boston; 1954 (RCA)****
8. Beecham; ORTF; 1959 (EMI)****
Good -and frightening- listening!!"
A dreamy universe!
Hiram Gomez Pardo | Valencia, Venezuela | 04/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The basic premise to achieve a monumental performance of the "Fantastic" consists in getting that dreamy environment in which the desires, fantasy, eroticism, imaginative flight, enraptured musical canvas and sublime expansion of the reality must be blended in order to recreate this introspective feature in which as listeners might live, move, feel and enjoy the vicissitudes and different anima states of this captivating work, hovered by that kaleidoscopic atmosphere of colors, desires and feelings, that constitute an apart Opus even divorced of any other previous reference. Berlioz found in this page the accurate representation of the purest Romantic spirit, never equaled and obviously nor anything like it surmounted.
Just a few directors have been able to raffle the enormous obstacles along this extraordinary musical tour de force, in which the brightness, the febrile introspection, the several impulses of rage, dreamy lyricism, radiant mood, chilling environment of the lugubrious Sabbath or the frightening March to surplice make of this work five moods in one.
Charles Munch was probably the most prestigious director that made it possible; to achieve all these kaleidoscopic anima states at sum perfection; thanks to the impressive and opulent sound of this relevant first class Orchestra.