Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique / Les Francs-juges Overture, Op. 3

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Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique / Les Francs-juges Overture, Op. 3
Les Siècles, François-Xavier Roth

[ Harmonia Mundi / CD ]

Release Date: Friday 7 February 2020

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Drawing on various themes dear to the early Romantic movement of the 1820s, the Symphonie Fantastique turned the rules of a classical symphony on their head - to better serve Berlioz's intentions.

This new reading by the ensemble Les Siècles is based on a close study of the composer's autograph score and benefits from an intimate familiarity with period instruments, which here include the church bells of his hometown, La Côte-Saint-André.

The Fantastique includes passages from an early operatic effort he left unfinished: Les Francs-Juges - a piece François-Xavier Roth deems worthy of being placed alongside Berlioz's more famous symphonic works we cherish today.

"The success of this account is not just through the conductor's close study of the autograph manuscript. Roth seems to have an emotional hotline to Berlioz, alive to every twist and turn of the composer's fevered passions." Gramophone Awards 2020 Short List - Orchestral

"This superb recording further confirms, if it were necessary, that performing such music with contemporary instruments, but strings and no vibrato anywhere is far more than an exercise in scholarship. What the result may lack in weight and density is more than made up for by the gain in clarity and élan. François-Xavier Roth is particularly attentive to the latter, not stinting on the sforzandos" BBC Music Five Stars

"it's a joy to hear French musicians play music that is their birthright. It emerges in brilliant colours, but I miss the flatulent rasp of the ophicleide in the March to the Scaffold. I've never heard a witchier finale, though: the woodwinds cackling and the col legno strings clattering to represent skeletons rising from their graves have never been more vividly realised." The Sunday Times

"Part of the joy of this studio account of Berlioz's extraordinary autographical fantasia, made on the back of numerous live concerts, lies in its idiosyncratic instrumental timbres, particularly audible among winds and brass…Yet there's not only surface brilliance here; Roth clinches the album's triumph by freshly shaping phrases and dynamics after close inspection of Berlioz's manuscript...If this performance isn't "fantastique", I don't know what is." Five Stars The Times


Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14
Les Francs-juges Overture, Op. 3

Berlioz, Symphonie fantastique | Les Siècles, François-Xavier Roth