add to wish list | library


25 of 29 recommend this,
would you recommend it?

yes | no

 

Discussion: Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique - Munch

Posts: 6

Post by ramesh February 20, 2006 (1 of 6)
Incredible recording for 1954, especially when one considers the sound RCA 'achieved' for Toscanini in 1952-3, and EMI for Furtwängler during the same period. There is more bloom about the instruments than in the Reiner/Chicago recordings dating from 1954 thus far issued on SACD, and also compared to the Fiedler/Boston Pops '54 Offenbach SACD. I don't have the Mercury Berlioz SACD to do comparisons.

The woodwind sound rather 'French', more nasally and reedy, as they do in the later disc of Ravel/Debussy from Munch. The fact that the brass rasp more than they blare, compared, say, to Solti in Chicago and Karajan in Berlin is surely an advantage. To be frightening in the manner of the stipulated programme is perhaps better achieved through eerie sonorities rather than decibels, ie this is a witch's cauldron rather than a bull ring. Did the BSO at this time have French-sourced valve instruments to account for the timbres?

Post by fafnir February 21, 2006 (2 of 6)
ramesh said:

Incredible recording for 1954, especially when one considers the sound RCA 'achieved' for Toscanini in 1952-3, and EMI for Furtwängler during the same period. There is more bloom about the instruments than in the Reiner/Chicago recordings dating from 1954 thus far issued on SACD, and also compared to the Fiedler/Boston Pops '54 Offenbach SACD. I don't have the Mercury Berlioz SACD to do comparisons.

The woodwind sound rather 'French', more nasally and reedy, as they do in the later disc of Ravel/Debussy from Munch. The fact that the brass rasp more than they blare, compared, say, to Solti in Chicago and Karajan in Berlin is surely an advantage. To be frightening in the manner of the stipulated programme is perhaps better achieved through eerie sonorities rather than decibels, ie this is a witch's cauldron rather than a bull ring. Did the BSO at this time have French-sourced valve instruments to account for the timbres?

I agree with your observation concerning the Munch 1954 Fantastique. Unfortunately IMHO the 1954 Reiner CSO series was not as well recorded. In 1962 Reiner and Munch rerecorded the Fantatique and Zarathustra from 1954. The new recordings, especially of the Zarathustra, were much better than the 1954 efforts.

Sadly, the preformances were not quite as well characterized as their previous efforts - still excellent, however. The later recordings were reissued on the JVC XRCD line at exorbitant prices and IMHO sound better than the earlier recordings in SACD Living Stereo.

Perhaps RCA will ultimately provide the later 3-channel recordings in the SACD format they deserve. I suspect that this is merely wishful thinking.

Post by ramesh February 21, 2006 (3 of 6)
Perhaps the impetus of RCA to prioritise release of the 1954-5 recordings was copyright expiration. This is fifty years in the normal world, but I gather it's longer in America. This presumes a recording originating in America can't have the longer term of copyright extended in other markets, where the fifty year tenure applies.

Post by Allen November 18, 2007 (4 of 6)
Ever since I bought it, it becomes my favorite album and THE definitive interpretation of this works.

The recording is made so early in 1954. Somehow the music sounds a bit dry in multichannel mode (the CD version does not have this feel).

But something is bugging me more: when I listen in multichannel mode, the chapter 4 has a very heavy dominating drum beats from left channel, sounds very unbalanced and overwhelming.

When I listen to the same chapter from my ipod (obviously, it is from the standard CD layer), the drum beats is quite balanced, and less dominating.

Anybody having the same observation?

Post by Julien November 18, 2007 (5 of 6)
Allen said:

Anybody having the same observation?

It may be your room. Or equipment/room association. Happens quite often. The same recording might have no bass in some other rooms. That's why Dan Popp was so right saying the familiarity of a reviewer with his room and equipment is key to his accuracy, not only the quality of the equipment. At the end it is the room that decides how it sounds overall.

Post by Allen November 18, 2007 (6 of 6)
Julien said:

It may be your room. Or equipment/room association.

Hmmm, interesting, you may be right that it is indeed the room resonance. The funeral bell in chapter 5 is also in left channel, very load and outstanding (though not to the extent that it sounds out of balance). I thought that was intentional.

Try to play back in SACD stereo mode or the CD stereo, it does not change the sonics of the drum beats in chapter 4. (the CD layer's has a much higher tape hiss than sacd - a new observation.)

Now, comparing with the Paul Paray/Detroit SO's interpretation(Mercury Living Presence), the drum beats in chapter 4 and the bells in chapter are focused in center channel, everything is very balanced, and sonics is not dry at all. In general, Paul Paray's interpretation is quite conventional, sonics is more focused in center channel, a listener is positioned farther away from the stage.

I will get the 4-channel Pentatone sacd with Colin Davis directing. It may be interesting to compare them all.

Closed