For brilliant tone colors, innovative instrumental combinations, and startling effects, the music of Hector Berlioz has seldom been surpassed, and students of this arch-Romantic composer know that this is where the art of modern orchestration begins. The seven overtures on this 2013 Chandos disc epitomize Berlioz's fiery imagination and technical skill with each instrument and section of the orchestra, and the originality of Le Corsaire, Béatrice et Bénédict, Les Francs-juges, Le Carnaval romain, Waverley, Le roi Lear, and Benvenuto Cellini have kept them alive and vital in the concert repertoire to the present day. In fact, if this fine SACD by Andrew Davis and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra is a measure of excellence, they have never sounded better. This CD truly is a showcase of virtuosic orchestral writing and playing, and every track dazzles with electricity and drama. Newcomers to Berlioz would do well to make this their introductory album, because the surprising qualities that are found in his larger orchestral and operatic masterpieces are on display in these digestible pieces. Chandos provides extraordinary reproduction that captures every note, and audiophiles will relish the vibrant sonorities. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson