The reviewer below is wild with enthusiasm for this 1962 Harold in Italy from Bernstein but doesn't seem to realize that La Mort de Cleopatre is also by the same composer, or that Bernstein's 1961 recording with his great friend--and great artist--Jennie Tourel is actually more outstanding. Except for Janet Baker on EMI, no one has approached Tourel in her involvement and commitment. Bernstein follows suit, and the result (which Sony previously paired with the Berlioz Requiem) is a joy.
As for the Harold, William Lincer, the NY Phil's first viola, doesn't have a virtuoso's temperament, and his playing tends to be bland. Too bad, since Bernstein is in very good form. In a way it doesn't matter much that the sonics are a drawback--sharp and edgy throughout, with almost no depth--because Bernstein recorded Harold again on EMI with French forces that, if anything, do an even better job. Unfortunately, he didn't get a first-rate violist the second time around, either, so I can't give more than four stars to the early or later performance.