BERLIOZ (THE BEST OF) (Igor Gruppman/ Kenneth Jean/ Pinchas Steinberg/ Polish State Philharmonic Orchestra (Katowice)/ Rivka Golani/ San Diego Master Chorale/ San Diego Symphony Orchestra/ Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/ Yoav Talmi) (Naxos: 8.556678)
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Way ahead of his time, misunderstood, and a rebel. It is difficult to believe, as we hail Beethoven's achievements, that the great German composer had only been dead three years when Berlioz wrote the erotic Symphonie Fantastique. It was not progress, it was a quantum leap forward for music.
Yet he was often shunned, the size and scope of such operas as The Trojans totally alien to those who were still trying to come to terms with the comparative conservatism of Beethoven's Fidelio. Just imagine Brahms was not yet born!
This disc is the ideal way to appreciate just how great and significant was his music. From the boisterous Roman Carnival Overture, to the chilling March to the Scaffold, here is the very best of Berlioz.
It is presented in outstanding performances, many from the partial cycle of Berlioz made for Naxos by the virtuoso orchestra from San Diego. And it even contains a novelty to titillate those who think they know a lot about Berlioz, with the Rêverie et Caprice, a work of stunning beauty for violin and orchestra.