Douglas Bostock / Argovia Philharmonic

Fantastique

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AllMusic Review by

For this 2015 audiophile release, Douglas Bostock and the Argovia Philharmonic present extraordinarily vivid performances of Hector Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique and his orchestration of Carl Maria von Weber's concert waltz, Invitation to the Dance, two popular works that epitomize early Romanticism. This is Bostock's third hybrid SACD on Coviello Classics, and the label's high production values are well-suited to his close attention to details and the orchestra's finely articulated playing, essential qualities in Berlioz's music. The live multichannel recording captures all the atmosphere and excitement of the performances, and the close microphone placement brings a special presence to the solos and highlighted sections in both works. These are mainstream interpretations, played on modern instruments by a full-size orchestra, though the nuanced shadings and vibrant colors on display in Symphonie fantastique ensure that it is fresh-sounding and continually interesting. Especially praiseworthy are the musicians' unflagging efforts to propel the music forward in places where it can sag, most notably in the Scène aux champs, where the sense of rhythm and forward movement can be easily lost in the slow tempo. While Invitation to the Dance is a lively opening track, appropriate for setting the mood, many listeners will want to skip ahead to hear Symphonie fantastique, the true showpiece of this compelling album.

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