Berlioz : Symphonie Fantastique

Berlioz : Symphonie Fantastique


Ataulfo Argenta conducting the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra (1957)

Decca SXL 2009

Speakers Corner Records : LP 180 gram

Brand New and Sealed Record

sold out
Add To Cart

Louis-Hector Berlioz (1803 - 1869) composed La Symphonie fantastique : Épisode de la vie d'un artiste ... en cinq parties (Fantastical Symphony : An episode in the life of an artist, in five parts) in 1830.

I - Rêveries, Passions (Reveries, Passions)
II - Un bal (A Ball)
III - Scène aux champs (Scene in the fields)
IV - Marche au supplice (March to the scaffold)
V - Songe d'une nuit de sabbat (Dream of a night of sabbath)

Leonard Bernstein described the symphony as the first musical expedition into psychedelia because of its hallucinatory and dream-like nature, and because history suggests Berlioz composed at least a portion of it under the influence of opium. According to Bernstein, "Berlioz tells it like it is. You take a trip, you wind up screaming at your own funeral."

Behind the mysterious title Symphonie fantastique is to be found what was undoubtedly one of the most powerful musical compositions of its day. The highly controversial discussions which this autobiographical, extraordinary work provoked are quite understandable when one considers that Beethoven and Schubert had just put down their quills for the last time and that Wagner had only just left his childhood behind him. In commenting upon the daring cyclical structure of the work, one French music critic said, “In Berlioz’s Symphony we believe that we have seen the prelude to a revolution in instrumental music”.
In spite of being acknowledged and praised as a composer, Berlioz was never given the professorship he coveted at the Paris Conservatoire, and it might appear as if the renowned Conservatoire Orchestra was making its apologies for this in the present excellent recording. The various scenes of the intoxicating programme music are approached with daring; dreadful, macabre ideas are presented in a low, gloomy and dark timbre until finally a heroic attitude comes to the fore, accompanied by thundering drum rolls, when the death sentence is pronounced. Fantastique!

Recorded in November 1957 at La Maison de la Mutualité, Paris, by Ken Cress.

This Speakers Corner LP was remastered using pure analogue components only, from the original analogue studio tapes through to the cutting head and was pressed with virgin vinyl at Pallas. More information under