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CLASSICAL  January 2008

CLASSICAL January 2008

Subject:

Re: Munch's Berlioz

From:

Roger Hecht <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 25 Jan 2008 17:38:53 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (54 lines)

Steve Schwartz wrote:

>I don't really agree with Davis's view of Berlioz.  He sees him as far
>more classical than I do, as if the composer were the Ingres of music
>rather than the Gericault.  Still, he gets great playing from the LSO,
>and he has, I suppose, a valid point.  For me, it's all a bit too languid.
>I'm shallow and perfectly willing, even eager, for Berlioz to overwhelm
>me.  Nevertheless, I find myself, every once in a while with Davis just
>to, as it were, clean my palate.  Then it's back to Munch for a few more
>years.  If you must have only one Berlioz Requiem, then the RCA Munch
>is the one to get.

In agreement here, though I've come to think the recorded sound is
never quite as good as I remember whenever I play this.  That said,
this is certainly worth getting for Munch and the BSO in its French
prime.  For me, in addition, Leopold Simoneau is worth the price of
admission.  His Sanctus has never been equaled in my experience.

One recording I think people should at least hear is the Norrington.
Now, I'm no fan of this conductor.  Much the opposite, and when I
received this recording for review for ARG, I went "Uh oh." Quite frankly,
I was stunned when I heard it.  I loved it.  It's very clearly presented,
revealing parts we don't usually hear in recordings of this pieces.  Much
is frightening or mysterious.  Perverse as it may seem, it sounds more
English than French, and it works in sptie of, or perhaps because of,
this effect.  It also conjures up the spirit of the Middle Ages, not
entirely unfittingly.  In my review, I summarized it this way:

   "Everyone involved in this live concert projects real power
   and serves this music in a way I didn't expect. This is a
   magnificent performance that clears away cobwebs and baggage
   to produce an often frightening but ultimately sublime and
   serene Requiem, as opposed to a display piece. Its sound
   is more English and Medieval than French and Romantic.,
   What that and its image of a solemn service in a large,
   stone cathedral in a large English glen say about historical
   correctness I dare not guess, but I will not think of this
   piece in the same way again."

I'm not sure everyone will agree, but if you can try it without cost
sometime, give it a shot. For what it's worth, two friends who like
Norrington no more than I do, admired this as much as I do.

Another recording that is sort of/kind of along these lines in certain
weird ways is the Scherchen.  Very interesting, as I recall, if (I think)
in mono.

Roger Hecht

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