Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Berlioz, Cgc, Jansons|
Listen to Samples
An unexpectedly good reading
Samuel Stephens | TN, USA | 06/27/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I picked up this version of the Symphonie fantastique I expected a perfunctory version: good but not great. Well, I've heard my share of Fantastiques, and this is definitely one of the best.
A common complaint I have with many versions is that the conducter seems to be playing a different composer other than Berlioz. Take Karajan for example: he takes pauses in the first movement as if he was conducting Bruckner's Fifth.
Jansons understands where this music needs to go, and he commands the finesse to bring it off exceptionally well. Among the best versions (Boulez/Cleveland, and Tilson Thomas/SFSO) the conductors always allow a "swing" to the music. Berlioz's music is supposed to be fantastical, after all.
Jansons' "Reveries. Passions." is beautiful and flowing, and desperately passionate. "Un Bal" is swift and colorful, and best of all the "Scene Aux Champs" stands out as one of the loveliet versions ever. If the March is too nice, the Witches Sabbath makes up for it. The bells aren't all that special, but when everything else goes right in the movement (great snakes and skeletons and dies irae) that's a minor issue.
For those who are new to this symphony: you could do a lot worse than get this version. For those who already one the SF: why not try this one? It'll surprise you."
A sober, rational reading with elegant touches
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 06/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Clearly the musicians and audiences of Amsterdam like Jansons conducting style or he wouldn't have been hired on, and given that he is even more sober than Riccardo Chailly, that too must satisfy the Dutch taste. However, the hallucinatory, over-the-top romanticism of Berlioz wouldn't seem to be a good fit. It's true that Colin Davis made a rather cautious Symphonie fantastique with the Concertgebouw (Philips) that The Gramophone picked as the best of his four versions. So there's room for dispassionate Berlioz. Tempos are middle-of-the-road, and despite the wonderful playing of the orchestra, Jansons doesn't reach for scenic or insturmental effects, much less for the bizarre and grotesque.
Fanciers of elegant playing will find much to admire in the calm, atmospheric third movement with its echoing shepherd's pipes. I'd say that the tumbrils in the fourth movement were taking the condemned to the suburbs rather than the guillotine. When they get there they will have a nice time with the polite witches conjured up in the fifth movement. Jesting aside, the playing is never less than alluring, and the high-energy parts of the score are brought off vigorously. (The bells in the last movement are also rather polite but do sound like church bells on a smaller scale.) The filler is an alert, well-played Roman Carnival Over. that has the merit, like the main work, of being caught in excellent sound.
For all of its middle-of-the-road virtues, this CD is a steal at its bargain price, particularly if you can find a used copy. Just don't expect the hairs on the back of your neck to stand up."