BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique / Barenboim

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HECTOR BERLIOZ
Symphonie fantastique

FRANZ LISZT
Les Préludes
West-Eastern Divan Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim
Int. Release 01 Jul. 2013
1 CD / Download
0289 478 5350 3 CD DDD DH
Recorded live at the BBC Proms


About the Album

Breath-taking brilliance: Barenboim’s Berlioz

Daniel Barenboim’s gripping 2009 Proms performance of the Symphonie fantastique released on Decca

Daniel Barenboim’s close association with Decca continues with the release of a landmark album of works by Hector Berlioz and Franz Liszt. The new recording is guaranteed to attract worldwide attention, thanks not least to the recent best-selling success of the conductor and pianist’s five-album Beethoven for All project and broad popular and media interest in his extraordinary work with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Maestro Barenboim’s global profile was boosted in 2012 by his appearance at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. He came to the BBC Proms three summers earlier with his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra to perform two romantic masterworks: Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and Liszt’s Les préludes. The concert marked the orchestra’s tenth anniversary in fine style. It also projected the virtuosity and musicianship of its members and the life-enhancing power generated by an ensemble of young players from one of the world’s most troubled regions.

The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra’s 2009 BBC Proms programme reconnected with Weimar, where Liszt had once served as the local Grand Duke’s director of music. Liszt was also an ardent champion of Berlioz’s music. The two men first met in Paris the night before the premiere of the Symphonie fantastique in 1830. Liszt was so inspired by what he heard that he made a piano transcription of his French friend’s composition. Both men shared wild character qualities and frequently explored them in their work. “We felt a keen sympathy for each other,” wrote Berlioz about their first meeting, “and since then our relationship has only become closer and stronger.” The Symphonie fantastique and Les préludes, first performed in 1857, are both inspired by literary programmes, Berlioz’s score by his own tale of a drug-induced dream, Liszt’s by Alphonse de Lamartine’s Nouvelles méditations poétiques.

“Barenboim conspicuously sets these musicians the hardest challenges,” observed the Guardian in its review of the 2009 Proms concert. “They attacked the largest of the evening, Berlioz’s wildly virtuosic Symphonie fantastique, with commitment, giving an interpretation studded with individual highlights and maintaining a breath-taking brilliance.”