Eugene Goossens / London Symphony Orchestra

Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique

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While 21st century audio reproduction may be the finest ever achieved, particularly in the realm of the multichannel hybrid SACD, growing numbers of exceptional historic reissues offer proof that the quest for the best sound has been a decades-long process. Eugene Goossens and the London Symphony Orchestra recorded Hector Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique in 1959, on 35 mm three-track magnetic film, and the recording is so realistic and lifelike that it seems almost like a revelation. The use of 35 mm film for recording music was highly advantageous, because it offered three times the space of the usual quarter-inch tape, its thickness permitted recording at higher levels without printing through to other sections of the film, and the sprockets on its sides allowed the smoothest playback. Because of this innovative technology, the sound is amazingly intense and fully dimensional, and the listener feels situated in the middle of the orchestra. Berlioz's tone colors are vivid and the dramatic changes of mood in this intensely Romantic work are reinforced by the powerful effects of his orchestration, which all stand out in the detailed recording. Apart from some stretching at the beginning of the piece, which makes the sound wobble slightly, the intonation is accurate and the tone is transparently clear, and the music is as clean and crisp as anything that can be found on a state-of-the-art recording today. Since this package is a special treat for fans of terrific audio, the stereo CD is presented with a bonus two-sided DVD-10 that can be played on DVD audio and DVD video players. Highly recommended.

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