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on 30 October 2003
I have just recently purchased the LSO live version of Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique a very well recorded version from Sir Colin. But for me this does not surpass his 70's Concertgebouw version which is his cream of the crop. For £5 we can not grumble, very good liner notes, good performance, cheap n cheerful, quite involving and quite essential from the finest Berlioz conductor of this generation, since Charles Munch. Others to consider are John Eliot Gardiner, Charles Munch & Roger Norrington to name a few which I already own. One irritation about this cd is the grunts by Davis on the famous Sabbath movement, to avoid this minor irritation, do not listen with headphones on, in the finale. The extra bonus of the Beatrice overture is a treat. As I have said, its a good one to have but there are better, Gardiner and Davis' Concertgebouw from the seventies remain the top two.
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on 25 November 2011
Colin Davis appears to have been here for ever. He has evolved from enfant terrible to the grand old man of the English musical establishment and over those years has long seemed the definite word on Berlioz. Certainly, I have been happy to go along with that. This disc is, as you would expect, polished, urbane, and beautifully recorded.

Was it Wilde who said that there is nothing so false as approval of that which is approved of? There is of course always another in great music but if you want a symphonic approach backed by superb orchestral playing, Davis is the man to beat. However Berlioz was also a half-loony egotist and if eccentric weirdness is your thing there is a whole range of different interpretations stretching right back to Beecham and before. I only mention this because in a quite separate review (on Beecham's Fantastique) I wondered whether today's customary sophisticated refinement was not perhaps in danger of losing something.

However, there is a bewildering choice of versions out there but if you had to choose one mainstream version it would be difficult to beat Davis's version.
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on 9 February 2016
I had this on LP as a kid, and wanted to hear it again. I am still finding new things in it, and have a way to go before I have completely re-familiarised myself - but I am enjoying do so. But, as with a couple of other recent purchases, the expanse of orchestra is pushing my stereo to its limits, I'm afraid.
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on 22 February 2016
One of the best I listened to ever. The sound is excellent, the artistic quality hard to be surpassed. Sir Colin Davis was certainly one of the great conductors of Berlioz' works. A joy !!
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on 23 November 2014
Berlioz, Davis and LSO - WOW! A great tribute to Sir Colin and the recording engineers - its hard to beleive its a live recording.
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on 18 August 2012
Colin Davis' interpretation of this majestic work is pleasing and the LSO play beautifully, definitely the best performance of this ground breaking symphony I've heard.

So imagine my dismay to find bits missing from the first two movements!!!

10 out of 10 for conductor and orchestra and a very poor 2 out of 10 for the editor (a case of 'go away and try again!')

The first movement has a half bar completely missing just after the GP at figure 11 meaning there are just 4 second violin slurs before the first violin entry instead of 5. The 2nd movement has a whole beat missing just before figure 33 creating a lop sided 3/8 2/8 feel (this is Berlioz and not Tchaikovsky's famous lop sided waltz from his 6th symphony?!!)

What a pity one little man in a darkened room somewhere can ruin an otherwise wonderful performance, perhaps they should provide these poor fellas with a score so at least they know how it's supposed to go before they start snipping.

A disappointed 3 for the overall CD, no reflection on the superb musicians.

D :-)
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on 14 November 2013
I really like this as it's weaning me off rock music and into classical. Rachmaninov is too hard, Schumman too loud and this is just right!
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