Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Abbado's sweeping, scintillating Berlioz Fantastique
Yi-Peng | Singapore | 11/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique has always fared well on records, with the recordings of Beecham, Markevich, Munch and especially Sir Colin Davis always the top picks. But I think it's worth adding to their ranks this superb Abbado recording from the Windy City. Surprisingly I have not thought much about reviewing it, as I would be too dried-up to sing its praises. Of all the recordings I've heard, I find that this Abbado performance really gets to the emotional heart of the music and sweeps you along that it is impossible to stop listening. The only problem I have is in the early digital DG recording, because even though it's atmospheric it tends to cloud the sound and distort the minor details of the work.
Abbado's performance starts tentatively in the opening Reveries section, but one can hear the whirlwind of sound he cunjores up in the Passions. His speeds are brisk and you feel like you want to jump on his bandwagon to feel the roller-coaster ride of the central protagonist that Berlioz is depicting. The Ball swirls as it should, and the Scene in the Country is appropriately relaxed yet tense at the same time. Apparently this is where one can detect problems with the sound quality, as the recording clouds minor details in this mainly quiet movement. The brisk rendition of the March to the Scaffold sounds weighty without lumbering, yet still retaining its menacing swagger to the fall of the guillotine at the end. The apocalyptic Dream of a Sabbath Night ends the performance with a bang, riveting and menacing all the way through, the different sections of the orchestra combining for a kaleidascope of sound.
In short, with the minor quibbles about sound quality I would still gladly recommend this performance. Do not be alarmed that it is out of print, as one can buy this on a DG Entree (where the sound is still the same and has not been cleaned up or remixed). Apparently, as I write this, I understand that DG is preparing to release Abbado's recent (February 2006) re-recording with the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra next year. Yet with all the challenges one faces of putting out a new version, I'm sure Abbado's upcoming version would be similar to this, except with a renewed urgency and a youthful fervour, and of course with better recording technology."