CD Review: Riccardo Muti Conducts Berlioz

Courtesy of CSO Resound

Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique and Lélio. Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Riccardo Muti. CSO Resound.

Leonard Bernstein memorably called Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique” “the first psychedelic symphony in history.” The metaphor of a musical trip perfectly described Bernstein’s extravagant approach to the feverish passions of the score.

Riccardo Muti’s new recording of the “Fantastique” with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra offers a mellower journey. It is the latest release from the orchestra’s in-house label and was edited from his inaugural subscription concerts as music director in 2010. Muti gives a veritable master class in orchestral finesse, favoring elegance, subtlety and refinement over bombast and excess. Compared with his 1985 Philadelphia Orchestra recording, his interpretation has become less ostentatiously operatic, with greater concern for symphonic unity than the piling on of effect. His inspired account may not offer the brash exhibitionism of Bernstein or the risky thrill-seeking of Charles Munch, but it unfolds with clarity of vision and exudes authority and conviction…

Read the full review here (Washington Post, November 20, 2015)


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