Berlioz - Symphonie Fantastique, Lelio
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Label: CSO Resound
Cat No: CSOR9011501
Number of Discs: 2
Release Date: 18th September 2015
ArtistsGerard Depardieu (narrator)
Mario Zeffiri (tenor)
Kyle Ketelsen (bass-baritone)
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
This recording features Berlioz's 'Symphonie fantastique' with its sequel 'Lelio' presented as Berlioz intended. Actor Gerard Depardieu is the narrator in 'Lelio', and Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as part of their 120th season, give vibrant and dynamic performances of both works.
Berlioz wrote 'Lélio' as the “conclusion and complement” of the earlier work’s tortured tale, a response to the symphony’s cliff-hanger ending, and, above all, a testament to the healing power of music. Together, they formed the 'Episode in the Life of an Artist', a daring mix of autobiography and fantasy. Even during Berlioz’s lifetime, 'Lélio' was rarely performed with its companion, and only once, in a performance staged by fellow pioneer Franz Liszt in 1855, did Berlioz see his complete dramatic work presented as he envisioned it.
This new recording, from live semi-staged performances, attempts to recreate the essence of Berlioz’s own concept - moving from the realm of instrumental drama in the first half, to theatre in the second, as an actor takes the stage to tell Berlioz’s tale, while a simple scrim separates reality and creative fantasy - and draws a temporary line between a modern-day Chicago audience and the daring sounds of Berlioz’s imaginary world.
"from the moment he cued the orchestra’s flutes and clarinets, in the opening of Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique,” at the start of the Saturday evening performance, to his final downbeat.....at the end of the Sunday afternoon concert, worries about the state of American orchestras and those who lead them disappeared... Gérard Depardieu gave an alternately manic and depressed reading of the narration, in French. Mario Zeffiri sang the tenor arias with a sweet fluidity, and the bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen gave a strong account of the “Song of the Brigands”. In the larger pieces, particularly the fantasy on Shakespeare’s “Tempest”, the orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Chorus were solid and supple." - New York Times
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