Magazine article Gramophone

Berlioz Harold En Italie

Magazine article Gramophone

Berlioz Harold En Italie

Article excerpt

Berlioz

Harold en Italie, Op 16 (a). Overture, 'Le carnaval romain', Op 9. Reverie et Caprice, Op 8 (b). Benvenuto Cellini--Overture (b) Giovanni Radivo vn (a) Lise Berthaud va Lyons National Orchestra / Leonard Slatkin Naxos [B] 8 573297 (71' * DDD) Recorded live at the Lyons Auditorium, October 24 & 26, 2013

The undulating semiquavers on basses and cellos that open Harold en Italie sound rather workaday, certainly in comparison with Sir Colin Davis's classic Philharmonia version, but when the upper strings and woodwinds gain greater prominence, things move more smoothly. Lisa Berthaud's first viola solo, backed by the harp and interspersed with expressive clarinets, is beautifully played. Slatkin lilts us into the main Allegro as persuasively as anyone this side of the analogue divide and throughout the whole of the first movement (played with repeat), the to-ing and fro-ing between soloist and orchestra is admirably conversational. The second-movement March is mostly hushed, the violins especially magical as Berthaud plays her sul ponticello arpgeggios from 4'00", whereas the accented oboes and clarinets at the start of the Serenade are rather louder than the prescribed mezzo-forte, or is it that they're rather too closely balanced? …

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