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Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique & Other Works

The choral versions of La mort d’Ophélie and Sara la baigneuse may be relative rarities on record but both are vintage Berlioz, short and striking, which should be much better known. Yet further incentive to acquire a terrific account of the Symphonie fantastique.

Don’t be fooled by those well-known portraits of Saint-Saëns the bearded éminence grise—the two symphonies recorded here are the work of the young Camille, spreading his compositional wings and displaying a technical fluency far beyond his teenage years. In between, a certain musical menagerie roars, clucks, brays and squawks for attention …

Alisa Kolosova, Mezzo-Soprano,
Utah Symphony Chorus
University of Utah A Cappella Choir
University of Utah Chamber Choir
Barlow Bradford, Director

 

The music of Lieutenant Kijé was originally written as the score to the film of the same name, released in March 1934. It was Prokofiev’s first film music and his first commission. Prokofiev soon adapted it into the five-movement Lieutenant Kijé Suite, first performed in December 1934, and which quickly became a favorite in the international concert repertoire. Then, in 1938, Prokofiev collaborated with film director Eisenstein to create the score for the film Alexander Nevsky. He later adapted much of his score into the large-scale cantata for mezzo-soprano, orchestra and chorus featured on this recording.

Saint-Saëns’s Symphony No 2 is, by any standards, an outright winner and deserves to be much better known. Here, it’s one of two substantial works flanking a rambunctious account of Danse macabre.