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Berlioz: Harold en Italie

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Customer Reviews

Fantastic Berlioz from Slatkin

I must confess to being something of a Leonard Slatkin fan, as I always find something of value in his recordings, this one being no exception. Berlioz’ “Harold en Italie” has much to offer the listener, being suggested by Byron’s “Childe Harold” – and what a wonderful ride this is. It is quiet and sensitive and rollicking (particularly in the fourth movement), fun, and just flat out lovely. And it is obvious that the Orchestre National de Lyon and Mr. Slatkin are having way too much fun playing this piece. As described in the sparse liner notes, it is no wonder that Paganini loved it when he finally heard it, and it is disappointing that he did not take to the piece when first examining it.

This is not to say that the other works on this disc are lesser – the “Overture: Le carnival romain, Op. 9, H95” is simply delightful, as bright as it is clever. Track 6, Reverie et Caprice (Op. 8, H88), is gorgeous – clearly written to show off the emotional qualities of the violin while at the same time demonstrating what a well-crafted partnership with a gifted orchestra can accomplish. This is a marvelous piece. The last work on the recording, “Overture: Benvenuto Cellini, Op. 23, H. 76”, is wonderfully orchestrated, and definitely requires a balance between the orchestra and the soloist. While well performed, this is arguably the piece with the most delicate balancing act on the program. As presented here, it serves as an example of what a good conductor can accomplish with a talented orchestra, and both entities should be very proud of what is presented here.

This all digital recording is as much of a treat for the ears as it is for the Berlioz lover in this listener – it is clear and crisp and warm and fun. Leonard Slatkin has delivered again, as has Naxos, and I very much recommend this disc.

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Berlioz: Harold en Italie, Lyon National Orchestra
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