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Berio: Sinfonia

Peter Eötvös Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: £21.21
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Product details

  • Audio CD (10 Aug 2010)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B0009DBXKO
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 286,131 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Berio: Sinfonia For 8 Voices And Orchestra - 1.The London Voices 6:00£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Berio: Sinfonia For 8 Voices And Orchestra - 2. O KingThe London Voices 4:43£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Berio: Sinfonia For 8 Voices And Orchestra - 3. In ruhig fließender BewegungPer Enoksson11:31£1.49  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Berio: Sinfonia For 8 Voices And Orchestra - 4.The London Voices 3:15£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Berio: Sinfonia For 8 Voices And Orchestra - 5. VThe London Voices 6:41£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Berio: Ekphrasis [continuo II] for orchestraPeter Eötvös18:23£2.29  Buy MP3 

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Berio Sinfonia 26 Oct 2010
By MarcF
Format:MP3 Download|Verified Purchase
I remember first time I heard this in the late 70s, it was quite mindblowing. I didn't really hear it for about 20 years after vinyl became an outdated medium, then I found it here on Amazon and grabbed it. Once again, the piece took my breath away. The highly innovative (and in its time controverial) third movement which is a kind of collage of excerpts of other works from the classical repertoire, over the main structure of the scherzo from Mahler's Resurrection Symphony, with 8 voices adding a kind of commentary, and part 'stream of thought' style musing is an incredible listen.

Berio: Sinfonia
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, comprable with the famed Boulez recording 18 Oct 2005
By S. C Rice - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This recording is a good look at the Berio Sinfonia. I'll compare it to the Erato Boulez recording, which has been the towering recording of the Sinfonia. This recording has the mics closer to the instruments, and more engineering has been done to clarify textures. It is a recording more in the mold of the those that Ensemble Modern has been putting out recently. Eotvos also strives for clarity in this performance- the quotes stand out more, are more articulate, you can hear the interplay of the voices more. I think that the most famous third movement is somewhat more interesting with the more articulate quotations, and the timing of the recitation interacts more directly with other vocalists and the passing quotations. There are other minor details that give the recording some pizzaz here and there.

On the downside, the tuning isn't as good in the "o king" movements as it was in the Boulez recording.

Overall, I don't know that I like it better than the Boulez recording, but it is a good second interpretation of the piece.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not the best available. 6 Jun 2006
By Paco Yáñez - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Berio's Sinfonia is one of the most special compositions in the last decades, specially the famous third movement, even all of them are very remarkable because of the use of voice in a quite microtonal way.

In a recent edition of Juxtapositions, we can watch a DVD that has Berio as the central figure of a film on his Sinfonia, specially on the third movement, that he explains in detail on the DVD. His conception of the work is a kind of synthesis much more than a collage, that is what most of the people use to notice in that piece. Berio wanted to do of that movement a kind of personal creed of his debts with music, of those he loved and admired so much, and who have on Mahler the guide, a kind of boat that travels to Cyther full of music inside of his body. Mahler is an example for Berio (like he was for many other composers in the XXth Century, many of them Italian, like Maderna or Nono), and what Berio really loves in Mahler is his great capacity for put together different music, Mahler had on his mind as the conductor of the Vienna Opera he was. Berio tries to do something similar, but not taking the essence of music, like Mahler used to do, but quoting the music itself. In this way, we find on Berio's Sinfonia quotations of Bach, Debussy, Stravinsky, Strauss, Stockhausen, Boulez, Beethoven, Wagner... and of course Mahler... some of the composers he loved and, in my opinion, some of the most important musicians in the history of this art.

Eötvös' performance tries to make things very clear, giving special importance to the voices that Berio join to the music in the score, voices that were very present in Boulez's version, that is very close in style to this by Eötvös, even with a very close tempo, that is slower than Chailly (Decca), the performance I really think is the very best. In the Juxtapositions DVD we can here some pieces of the work conducted by Berio, and played by the Concertgebouw, really glorious!!! That performance is the nest I know, even Chailly's one, which is quite perfect is not so amazing like that, probably because it was recorded on Chailly's first years in Amsterdam, when the orchestra was not used to play this kind of contemporary music.

Eötvös is really a medium point between Boulez and Chailly, by tempo, by the importance he gives to the different parts of the scores, because of the voices... A good second option, with a good orchestra but not so great like Amsterdam's one. The recording is very good to, but I still prefer Decca's one for Chailly.

These are the recordings I know and the ranking I rate nowadays:

Chailly (Decca).

Eötvös (DG).

Boulez (Erato / Apex).

Bychkov (Philips).

Ekphrasis (Continuo II) has its best performance on Eötvös hands. I knew this piece on Col legno version, but this is really the best I know, so it's a good reason to by this CD, as it is a good recommendation if you don't have Chailly's one or if you want to listen much more clear the voices or another way of explaining this masterwork.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy This and Buy the Boulez and Let the Fun Begin 31 Jan 2006
By Zachary A. Hanson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This version of _Sinfonia_ more than holds its own. As the reviewer below suggests, it has its charms while the Boulez has its own. I love both versions. This one is sonically crisper; the timbres of the instruments are more dynamic. I like the zaniness of the Swingle Singers on the Boulez recording a little more, though. Still, the recitations are excellent and all-around crisp, too.

***IN CASE YOU DON'T HAVE A KNOWLEDGE OF THIS PIECE--This is a touchstone of the new music with little precedent. It stands at a fascinating crossroads between the compositional techniques of the serialists and the emotion of the Romantics. It is freer in its lyricism than the academic proportions of Schoenberg & Co. The strict serialists did some great things, of course, but what you hear on Sinfonia is what may have happened if more of them let go of the reins in regards to method. In other words, let the madness in without scoring it algebraically.

Best part is the third movement, where we hear the words of Beckett like we will hear them nowhere else. Add the fact that the backdrop is a Mahler scherzo played in unnerving "counterpoint" to some post-tonal pulses and you have a visceral, intellectual, and emotionally invigorating experience, indeed. There is no higher recommendation for a piece of new music and this new version pays the spirit of the original a world of tribute.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Berio's masterpiece of the '60s in the best overall recording, with a fine late orchestral work 21 Jan 2007
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Deutsche Grammophon might have slowed down or even killed their "20/21" line of new music recordings, but thank goodness we got this disc first. Here we have Luciano Berio's masterpiece of the 1960s, alongside a late and little-known orchestral work, performed by the Goteborgs Symfoniker and the London Voices conducted by the great Peter Eotvos.

"Sinfonia" for eight voices and orchestra (1968-69) is one of Luciano Berio's greatest works, vast in its proportions and in the musical traditions it incorporates. The eight voices are meant to be jazz singers, and Berio originally wrote the piece for the Swingle Singers. The first two movements are quiet and mysterious. In the first, the singers gently intone selections from Levi-Strauss' retellings of Brazilian myths, made so vague that only the phonetic properties matter. In the second movement "O King", an orchestration of an earlier independent work, the singers slowly build up to the name "Martin Luther King", who had been murdered the year before.

The third movement of "Sinfonia", the extroverted "In ruhig fliessender Bewegung", is the most famous. The skeleton of the work is the second movement from Mahler's "Resurrection" symphony, a little cut-up and reordered. Over this, Berio has a tenor reciting text taken mainly from Samuel Beckett's "The Unnamable" and Berio's own journalistic writings, and the orchestra responds with quotations from fifteen composers. For example, when the narrator uses the term "the lowing cattle, the rush of the stream", we hear part of Beethoven's "Pastorale" symphony, while a singer's cry "This is nothing but an academic exercise" is ironically accompanied by music by Hindemith. Every listener has his own favourite part of this movement, mine is when the narrator says "I have a present for you" and the orchestra responds with that big tutti chord that opens Boulez' "Don" (which is to say "Gift").

The fourth and fifth movements return to a subdued tone. The fourth brings back Levi-Strauss references and is rather brief. But for all my initial passion about the third movement, I find it is the fifth which is the most intriguing and satisfying. Originally "Sinfonia" was written in four movements, but after the first performance, Berio was unhappy that these four movements were not reconciled to each other. In the fifth movement he subsequently wrote, therefore, we hear references in the form of quotation and harmonic development to the original four movements, a savage mix of voices, confused percussion, and threatening trombones a la Per Norgard's fifth symphony. A splendid end to a massive work.

For a long time, *the* recording of the "Sinfonia" to have was that with the Orchestre National de France and the New Swingle Singers conducted by Pierre Boulez (first released on Erato, then reissued at budget price in Warner's "Apex" line). However, I must say I find Eotvos' the best available. In the third movement, Eotvos keeps it going at a very nice clip, creating a dizzying parade of images. Boulez, on the other hand, kept things quite slow; if one has already heard the Eotvos recording, terms like "molasses" come to mind. Also, the recording of Eotvos' go, as well as the fresh approach of the London Voices, keep this from sounding like a dated '60s happening. Still, Boulez's recording is solid in the other four movements, and the Berio fan should seek that out as well.

The liner notes for "Sinfonia" consist of a short sketch by Paul Griffiths, which covers all the basics. However, those enraptured by the piece would do well to seek out David Osmond-Smith's PLAYING ON WORDS: A Guide to Luciano Berio's 'Sinfonia' (University of Chicago, 1987) ISBN 0947854002.

The following "Ekphrasis (Continuo II)" for orchestra (1996) shows a different Berio, a composer who has worked through postmodernism and (in the 1970s) reinvigorated modernism to the fullness of his compositional powers. "Ekphrasis" is a vast orchestral landscape, where one can enjoy the fine view of hills or concentrate on myriad small developments subtly taking place in the instrumental textures. This isn't the only recording of "Ekphrasis", as it was put out by Col Legno as well, but it sure is the easiest to find.

Bottom line: get the Boulez recording and this, and enjoy a thrilling tour de force of the 20th-century music.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superbly balanced recording - a tad underwhelming 19 July 2012
By W. Chiles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Having bought this on a recommendation from a local daily news reviewer, I had overly high expectations perhaps. It's a well played, detailed recording made in a superb acoustic with an impassioned group of vocalists. Much to recommend especially in hearing the additional movement for the first time. I've known this work for years by way of the composer's new york philharmonic premiere recording. What I ultimately found a bit lacking was the energy of the Mahler movement. It's so perfectly balanced that I felt like conductor Eotvos was embarassed by the musical references to Mahler, Strauss, Stravinsky, Ravel, etc. They are underplayed and ultimately, in my opinion, underwhelming. There's a particular member of the London Voices who sounds near hysterical compared to Ward Swingle's more convincing and natural sounding voice exclamations. I can certainly recommend it but with reservations. Guess I'll have to check out the Boulez recording. He can lean towards and analytical extreme in his conducting but I've also heard him respond well to the dramatic elements in a piece, as witnessed in his powerhouse recording of "Wozzeck" albeit made in a closet of an acoustic and with some less than ideal singers. This is a significant and powerful, timely and timeless piece and well worth multiple recordings. We're fortunate that DGG and Eotvos took interest in performing and recording it.
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