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Symphonie Fantastique [Mariss Jansons, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra] [BR Klassik: 900121]

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Conductor: Mariss Jansons
  • Composer: Hector Berlioz, Edgar Varese
  • Audio CD (3 Mar. 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: BR Klassik
  • ASIN: B00HPZZOIQ
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 203,043 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
1
30
13:54
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2
30
6:32
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3
30
15:31
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4
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4:57
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5
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10:41
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6
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7:07
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Product Description

Berlioz : Symphonie fantastique, op.14 - Varèse : Ionisation / Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks - Mariss Jansons, direction

Customer Reviews

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Format: Audio CD
Even conductors can think of a masterpiece as a warhorse, and under that influence, they don't go out of their way to rediscover why a score became a masterpiece in the first place. Here Mariss Jansons breaks a long tradition of indifference toward the Symphonie fantastique. Every measure of the work is refreshed, listened to for every implied gasp, lurch, and fever dream of its hallucinating hero. The music is invested with liberal doses of Romantic spontaneity, finding intensity where other conductors find blah. In a word, Jansons is channeling his inner Charles Munch.

the conductor's intent is revealed early in the fist movement, where Berlioz's rhythmic irregularities crowd in. Jansons accentuates the agogic pace and underlines the eerie orchestration. These two tendencies are extended into all five movements - one notices that even the straightforward waltz in Un bal seems ghostly and strange. More striking still is the pastoral Scene aux champs, where no one before Jansons, not even Munch, has found a way to inject an air of strangeness - after all, the whole score is meant to be terrifying and surreal. It's eye-opening to hear the shepherds' serenade turn into shrieks. The cause is helped by the conductor's urgent pacing; too often this movement has been slowed to a trudge.

The really disturbing music belongs to the last two movements, of course, which depict a ride to the scaffold and a witches' black sabbath. Since even the most staid conductors put on their Halloween masks for this music, it's hard to out-Herod Herod. Jansons doesn't try. He relies on exact ensemble to bring out the musics color, abetted by remarkably good sonics, the kind we've become used to from BR Klassik's concert recordings, surely the best on the market.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Very good. Quite different from other versions. Indeed worth buying. Good recording.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Reasonable sound quality and individual performance.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 6 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A coloristic, spooky Symphonie Fantastique from an invigorating Jansons 6 May 2014
By Andrew R. Barnard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
It's ironic that Mariss Jansons has just recently decided to step down from the Concertgebouw after the 2014/15 season, as his announcement came shortly after he began to achieve startling success with his other major orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony. Health issues have dogged Jansons' footsteps for years, and I hope they don't cut his career short. When inspired, Jansons truly joins the ranks of our greatest living maestros.

Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique was a daring, revolutionary work in its day, but after decades of being a favorite of record companies, it takes interpretive skill to go beyond a rehashing of old tricks. It hasn't been immune from the infiltration of HIP dogma; there's period performances from Norrington and Gardiner for those who think Berlioz's passion was intended to be diffused through prudish lenses.

But Jansons takes the opposite tack. His Bavarian Radio Symphony sounds full and luscious, with virtuosity comparable to Rattle's Berliners on their EMI recording. But unlike Rattle who seemed reserved with a bent towards sheer orchestral beauty, Jansons uses the orchestration to add to the work's drama. He actively seeks to bring out the mystery, in a way that is original and extraordinary. The approach isn't so much romantic as modernist, actually. One needs to adjust to a sound world that is extreme for its surprises and inherent spookiness. On the surface Jansons can sound almost laid-back at times, until a closer listen reveals an unnerving unsettledness. It's shadowy, held back just enough to add an element of tip-toeing suspense.

This quality becomes apparent at the very start of the symphony, where Jansons brings a harrowing feel to thrice familiar bars and the builds the rest of the movement with verve and enough creepiness to make hairs stand on end. Even the second movement's ball has a feeling of strangeness, as does the long pastoral Adagio, where effects like the echoing winds and approaching thunder from the timpani is ethereal and gripping. The mood naturally persists with the two final movements, where Berlioz's radicalism is most prominent. The previous reviewer quibbles that the Witches' Sabbath lacks the last forward push, but I'd be prepared to argue that Jansons' slight reserve simply adds to the spookiness. In all, this reading is successful not because of overt excitement, as thrilling as the orchestra sounds in full cry.

The orchestral playing and the superb sound from BR Klassik are enough to make this recording worth hearing, but Jansons' inspiration is riveting, enough to push this reading to the very top of my list. One gets the bonus of Varese's Ionisation, performed with the same terrifying bent, as different as the two compositions are.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rethinking of Symphonie fantastique that sweeps the field 27 Mar. 2014
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Even conductors can think of a masterpiece as a warhorse, and under that influence, they don't go out of their way to rediscover why a score became a masterpiece in the first place. Here Mariss Jansons breaks a long tradition of indifference toward the Symphonie fantastique. Every measure of the work is refreshed, listened to for every implied gasp, lurch, and fever dream of its hallucinating hero. The music is invested with liberal doses of Romantic spontaneity, finding intensity where other conductors find blah. In a word, Jansons is channeling his inner Charles Munch.

The conductor's intent is revealed early in the fist movement, where Berlioz's rhythmic irregularities crowd in. Jansons accentuates the agogic pace and underlines the eerie orchestration. These two tendencies are extended into all five movements - one notices that even the straightforward waltz in Un bal seems ghostly and strange. More striking still is the pastoral Scene aux champs, where no one before Jansons, not even Munch, has found a way to inject an air of strangeness - after all, the whole score is meant to be terrifying and surreal. It's eye-opening to hear the shepherds' serenade turn into shrieks. The cause is helped by the conductor's urgent pacing; too often this movement has been slowed to a trudge.

The really disturbing music belongs to the last two movements, of course, which depict a ride to the scaffold and a witches' black Sabbath. Since even the most staid conductors put on their Halloween masks for this music, it's hard to out-Herod Herod. Jansons doesn't try. He relies on exact ensemble to bring out the music's color, abetted by remarkably good sonics, the kind we've become used to from BR Klassik's concert recordings, surely the best on the market. The Bavarian Radio SO makes such a golden noise that the usual Grand Guignol isn't missed. Much the same can be said of the finale, but it's here that Jansons seems a bit foursquare compared to Munch's wild rise. there's not much else to criticize about this vivid reading. (Purists may object at the lack of repeats in movements one and four.)

It was a stroke of programming genius to fill the CD out with Varese's Ionisation, scored for a huge variety of percussion plus "high and low sirens," since like Berlioz he dreamt up his own fantastic sound world a century later. Purely as sound, the piece is eeriness piled on eeriness, and the result is deliciously unearthly, especially in this crystal-clear performance. In all, this CD is a total success, and after a similarly triumphant War Requiem from him, I'm beginning to reassess Jansons as a potentially great conductor.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Romantic Precision to the Scaffold and Beyond 9 May 2015
By J. F. Laurson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Tender, halting, tip-toeing, and then socking the listener with a lightning-quick straight left and the occasional gnarling brassy, timpani-thwacking right to the ribs. Bone dry and pointed, detailed and precise, this is a very different Symphonie fantastique from the souped-up romanticism one gets from many a famous recording. Listening to that recording makes you stop wondering how Mariss Jansons could have forgone his conductorship with the Concertgebouw Amsterdam in favor of focusing solely on his Munichers. In the much appreciated added bonus of Edgar Varèse’sIonisation, the 13 player strong percussion ensemble is just showing off what precision really means. Now just imagine what that orchestra could do if it was finally given a proper hall to perform in?!

Best Recordings of 2014 (#3) on Forbes.com / ionarts
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this very much 16 July 2016
By musicnerd - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this very much, but not sure why. Maybe the slightly softer sound of the Bavarian RS and some occasional imagination in tempo changes from Jansons.
4.0 out of 5 stars Respectable 8 Jan. 2016
By PianoReview - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
A respectable performance - not going down as one of the greats like Munch's or Beecham. I was hoping the sound (like his Bruckner 7 and Tchaikovsky Pathetique on the same label with the same orchestra) would make this performance a knock out. It just was good - nothing wrong with it, but not a very moving performance.
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