Andrés Orozco-Estrada / Tonkünstler-Orchester

Hector Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique

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Because Hector Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique is one of the great orchestral showpieces of the early Romantic era, it has received exciting mainstream readings and vivid period-style performances, with conductors vying for advantage by trying different approaches, but always aiming to show off the work's innovative scoring. Ostensibly a conventional rendition, similar in most respects to the legendary versions by Colin Davis, who set the standard for conducting Berlioz for several decades, this live recording by Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich is played on modern instruments with no apparent nods to the movement for historically informed practices. Yet it is still a vibrant and colorful interpretation that delivers the music with heightened drama, takes full advantage of the orchestral palette, and renders Berlioz's impressive special effects with big sonorities and vigorous execution, especially in the last two movements. This Oehms Classics CD faces tremendous competition with many excellent contemporary recordings and longtime classics, including those by Davis, so its success depends largely on distribution and publicity. But judged solely on its excellence as music, not merely on style or the fashions of music criticism, this splendid recording will find many admirers and a permanent place in many collections.

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