Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

(Over?)-refined Berlioz

From November 27, 2012:


One sits up & pays attention to Leonard Slatkin in this new Naxos disc of the Symphonie Fantastique, his first recording from his new gig as Music Director of the Orchestre National de Lyon. Orchestral colour has always been a key in the orchestras Slatkin has built over the years, and in his choice of music. But for all the melodrama in the program, Berlioz's piece has a very French formal logic, and Slatkin's purposeful forward thrust reminds us that we're listening to a symphony written just a few years after Beethoven's death. Slatkin's approach is a bit drier and ironic, more matter-of-fact, than the intense, almost lurid versions of Munch or Bernstein. In cinematic terms, Slatkin's version would be closer to Wes Anderson than Bazz Luhrmann. The differences are ones of taste, though I wonder if Slatkin has taken too much fun out of the work. I suspect Berlioz himself would have wanted a more full-blooded approach. Over-refined or not, there's no questioning the excellence of the musicians or the clarity of the recording

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