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:
Boulez (Erato / Apex).
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.