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5.0 out of 5 stars A note on the recording, April 21 2003
This review is from: Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique/Roméo Et Juliette (Audio CD)
This is, to my mind, one of the truly great Berlioz interpretations. This is not really disputed by earlier reviews, but there have been comments on the sound. It is worth noting that the recordings made by RCA from '54 to '56 were really experiments with no clear intent to market the results. As John Pfieffer, the producer, noted in any number of interviews, the stereo recordings were made while commercial monaural sessions were going on. In some cases, they did not even continuously monitor the stereo as it was being laid down on tape. The biggest problem, since they were using a two- or three-mic setup, was finding the ideal position to produce a good balance between direct and reverberant sound. Boston Symphony Hall is much more reverberant than Chicago Symphony Hall and caused more problems of the type noted by some listeners, but also ended up producing some of the most spectacular results once the sweet-spot was found. The Munch: Saint-Saens 3rd Symphony is a good example.
Many of these recordings were not even released in stereo at first, having to wait until this CD series was created in the mid-90's. I think this one was, though, first on stereo reel-to-reel tape and then on LP. I do recommend that anyone interested in this great performance snap up the CD while it is still available. As many know, BMG has a much lower commitment to the classics than they used to and are axing many titles as they sell out. And the great John Pfieffer and Richard Mohr are no longer around to protest.
Happy listening.
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