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Discussion: Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique - Ozawa

Posts: 8

Post by Iain March 31, 2015 (1 of 8)
EDIT: Has anyone heard this in multi-channel yet, as it's part of a new series of titles from DGG that were originally mastered in discreet 4 channel immersive audio?

EDIT2: Frankly, I haven't heard this work in any form for awhile. What's the current consensus for best performance, as I'm curious as to how this performance compares with other available performances of this work?

Post by akiralx March 31, 2015 (2 of 8)
Colin Davis conducting the Concertgebouw on Philips in 1974 is often cited as a top class recording - it is certainly very fine.

I also have a liking for recordings by Myung-Whun Chung on DG and Herbert von Karajan's second recording (1975), also on DG - this is wonderfully played and has terrifying bells in the Witches' Sabbath...

Post by rammiepie March 31, 2015 (3 of 8)
Just placed my order @ AmazonUS for SF. Being that Thomas Mowrey recorded it discreetly for DGG is a big plus in my book. There is also a glowing review at Amazon (not that I place much creedence in Amazon reviews) which details Ozawa's masterful recording of the Berlioz classic.

Kudos, again, to Pentatone for making these DGG classics available on SACD 4.0!

Post by Lute March 31, 2015 (4 of 8)
rammiepie said:

Being that Thomas Mowrey recorded it discreetly for DGG is a big plus in my book.

There is also a glowing review... Ozawa's masterful recording of the Berlioz classic.

Kudos, again, to Pentatone for making these DGG classics available on SACD 4.0!

+ 4.0

Post by rammiepie March 31, 2015 (5 of 8)
Lute said:

+ 4.0

+4.....-1

Post by Iain April 1, 2015 (6 of 8)
rammiepie said:

... Being that Thomas Mowrey recorded it discreetly for DGG is a big plus in my book. ...

Kudos, again, to Pentatone for making these DGG classics available on SACD 4.0!

Quite, as it was my primary reason for starting this thread. Secondarily, I'm interested in how this performance compares with others. Thanks akiralx for an excellent start of this.

Original post sorted. That's what happens sometimes when you're in multi-tasking mode. : )

Post by hiredfox April 2, 2015 (7 of 8)
It is a mystery why Pentatone chose this particular recording (of DG) to re-master, as Ozawa's performance of Berlioz's hallucinatory work famously not only lacks drama and mystique but also misses the repeats in the first, third and fourth movements which adds balance and heightens tensions as the artist's dream unfolds. At 47. 14 min it is a performance that leaves the listener feeling very 'short-changed' and is almost 10 mins shorter than for example Davis on the earlier Pentatone RMQ at 55. 36 min.

To his credit Ozawa as always draws sumptuously beautiful playing from the BSO musicians and the sheer accuracy of instrument timbre in this recording without loss of bite or attack is breathtaking. The massed strings provide a suitable heart-stopping moment in "Scène aux Champs" which will charm even the most seasoned listener. The outstanding quality of this sound recording is a massive tribute to the 1973 DG engineers and the present day Pentatone re-mastering engineers - maybe this is why the tapes were selected?

Overall 'though a disappointing performance coupled to a fabulously lifelike recording but an unerring sense that the dream is over all too quickly, if one is going to lose one's head then for heaven's sake Mr Guillotine man ponder on it awhile! In all honesty this recording cannot earn a recommendation on technical quality alone, the loss of 10 mins of drama and a so-so interpretation by Ozawa leaves too much to be desired.


There is of course no right way to play this fantasy - and therefore no best performance - deliberately the conductor and the listener are invited by the composer to make up their own minds - auto biographical indeed.

So it all comes down to personal taste. Consensus has Beecham as unrivalled with Davis RCO version from 1974 as a close second. Both have all the repeats but only Davis is on SACD. A later older Davis with the LSO on LSO Live is touted by some as worthy of such esteemed company but for me listening to all three over the last few days I'd point you towards the earlier youthful Davis on PTC 5186 184 as the one to buy if you do not have it in your collection already. Possibly old men do not dream so much or with such fantasy?

Post by Lute April 3, 2015 (8 of 8)
hiredfox said:
It's nice to have you back, Fox. I missed you. Seriously, I mean it. Even if we don't always agree, I enjoy hearing your point of view.

Closed