Berlioz is a sadly neglected composer. However, he was a true revolutionary and an absolute genius who wrote a huge amount of totally original and imaginative compositions. In this bargain value set Sir Colin Davis does noble justice to this wonderful music. The set includes the famous 1960s recording of the Symphonie Fantastique and listening to it now one is struck by the energy and passion which pervades the work, put in by both the composer (who wrote it under the influence of unrequited love for an English Shakespearean actress) and the conductor and orchestra (both on dazzling form). The other major jewel in this set is the recording of Romeo et Juliette. This is perhaps my favourite of Berlioz's many pieces as it is simply overwhelmingly beautiful and gorgeously rich in orchestral colour. The performance here does this amazing piece true justice. The playing of orchestra, choir, and soloists is truly outstanding and the symphony shines with warm radiance. The symphony is itself revolutionary. The 'symphony' includes both choir and soloists and the music is far in advance of its time (it was completed in 1839). In the music you can here where other composers took inspiration. Indeed, Wagner was one composer who immediately saw the genius of Berlioz after he heard the work. Harold en Italie is another brillaintly original piece in this set. After Paganini had heard Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique he saw the composer's genius and commissioned a viola concerto. Berlioz, however, then composed another very original and beautiful piece which, although a masterpiece, failed to interest Paganini (he wanted something to show off his devilish talent and complained that the viola part was not prominent enough). Once hearing it however the violin virtuoso was so moved that he gave Berlioz a 20,000 franc cheque! The playing of all involved in this recording is excellent. The performance is wonderful and sparkles with energy. All the pieces on these dics are brilliant. Also in the set is the sequel to the Symphonie Fantastique (Lelio); complete overtures; and highlights from La Damnation de Faust, Les Troyens, and Tristia. These discs are a must have for anyone who likes Berlioz and indeed evryone else because you should adore Berlioz! I recommend this set to absolutely everyone.
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Brilliantly constructed music abounds on this nice box set! Berlioz was a great composer but tends to get missed out by a lot of folk these days, he was very inventive and original, the overtures are absolutely stunning! Nice booklet and a compact box make this an essential purchase for those wanting to explore the music of this composer.