This disc is truly a tour de force in the way it preserves Paul Paray's magnificent performances of Berlioz for posterity. The recordings date from the early 60's but with Decca's superb remastering, the sound is truly astonishing for its age.
Paray conducts a full-blooded, no holds barred account of the 'Fantastique' that fairly leaps from the pages, much different from Colin Davis or Herbert von Karajan's interpretations but no less thrilling or exciting.
The 'Rêveries and Passions' movement displays amazing dexterity, whilst the Ball is similarly informed with the same energy and vitality. In 'A Scene in the Country', Paray conducts with a soft touch with the Detroit players similarly in tune with his intentions.
The final two movements are dispatched with white-hot intensity and the work is brought to a close in almost thunderous fashion.
Paray also brings typical Berliozian charm and character to the fill ups on this disc, which includes a searingly vivid account of the Roman Carnival Overture. Truly a disc to treasure for all lovers of Berlioz and great orchestral music besides.
Copyright © 2006, Gerald Fenech