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ALLA BREVE

August 15, 1993|TIMOTHY MANGAN

BERLIOZ: "Symphonie Fantastique"; other works. Paris Symphony, conducted by Pierre Monteux. Pearl GEMM CD 9012. Monteux, who made four recordings of the "Symphonie Fantastique" over a 30-year span, considered this first one, made in 1931 with the orchestra he founded, his best. And since he could trace his conducting lineage (through Edouard Colonne) directly back to Berlioz himself, this recording is of special interest. Taut in rhythm, reedy in texture, the performance brings Berlioz's mayhem into sharp focus; his instrumental and metrical inventions and extended phrase lengths become clarified. In this closely argued reading, Monteux seems able to launch the music forward at will, giving the performance a wonderfully malleable, nimble feeling. Individually, membership of the Paris Symphony might not equal present-day standards in technique, but as an ensemble it was crackerjack--responsive, buoyant, unified. Included are vibrant accounts of the "Benvenuto Cellini" Overture, "Les Troyens a Carthage" Overture, Chabrier's riotous "Fete Polonaise" and an odd tidbit, Piero Coppola's "Interlude Dramatique."

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