Big names but mostly indifferent performances
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 11/24/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this 2-CD Panorama collection for the 1975 Karajan Symphonie Fantastique, which is supposedly his best stereo version. Certianly the first movement, though as far from France as one can get (Karajan seems to try to be the anti-Munch in his suave, almost bloodless virtuosity) is stunning as sheer execution. But Karajan loses interest quickly. After two listless movements, there is some spark in the final ride to the gallows and witches Sabbath, but by then the whole performance has collapsed from ennui.
Other big names follow to not much better effect. We get Maazel in a rushed, sober Roman Carnival Over., Ozawa in faceless but well played excerpts from the Damnation of Faust, and for enthusiasts of French diva Regine Crespin, an actually classic performance: Nuits d'Ete with Ansermet. Since the same performance can be had on a Decca CD devoted to Crespin, I think it can be skipped here. I actually don't like her way of swooping into notes and missing the intonation slightly, so overall there wasn't much here to attract me. Everything was worth a listen once, and for those who need a primer on Berlioz, this would be a good place to start before moving on to better recordings."
mjab | Gardena, California | 03/21/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Despite being an analog recording from the seventies, this one have the best Symphonie Fantastique I ever heard...at least for me. I had compared it with plenty of other versions and it is still my favorite. Sometimes you can consult experts from the Penguin Catalogue or Grammophone Magazine, but at the end it is your personal tastes and expectations what really counts. The sound is somewhat bright, a little bit harsh and strident specially on the first movement, but still you can feel the force from Karajan and the Berliner Philharmonic binomius, with powerfull percussion on the last two movements. It is a must have."