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  Living Stereo
  Berlioz: Harold in Italy, Overtures - Munch
  Berlioz: Harold in Italy, Roman Carnival, Benvenuto Cellini, Beatrice et Benedict (overtures)

Boston Symphony Orchestra
Charles Munch (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Reviews: 1

Review by Arthur July 4, 2007 (11 of 13 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This version was the one with which I "learned" the piece, but for me the Bernstein with William Lincer is the only one that treats the viola as an obligatto (sp?) "wanderer" such as Berlioz asks for. That version apparantly has Lincer sitting at his regular spot in the first desk of violas and he is not spotlit. Every other recording makes the mistake of spotlighting the "soloist" to the detriment of the music.

I have loved most of the Living Stereo reissues, but the Boston recordings have been the least impressive in general. I had to hear this just because of my history with the recording, but with a three-track master, I didn't hold out much hope. After all, if Primrose was over emphasized in the stereo versions, what would happen with a center channel?

Well, actually, it doesn't beat Lincer for mike technique, but it actually sounds much better than the stereo version! The whole orchestra is forwardly placed and the spacing is not really seamlessly handled. I get a distinct sense of some instruments coming from the left side and others coming from the right. But the viola balance itself is much improved!

I'm not one who is wholly on the Colin Davis bandwagon when it comes to Berlioz. He seems to emphasize the fact that Berlioz sprang out of Gluck, while Munch emphasizes the fact that Berlioz was a revolutionary who influenced what came afterward (such as Liszt and Wagner to name just a couple). There is room for both styles, but for my part, I'm glad I picked this disc up.

I have listened to the overtures, and enjoyed them --same basic musical and sonic approach.

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Works: 3  

Hector Berlioz - Grande ouverture de Benvenuto Cellini, H 76B
Hector Berlioz - Harold en Italie, H 68
Hector Berlioz - Le carnaval Romain: ouverture caractéristique, H 95