Berlioz: Symphonie fanstastique, Op 14; Rameau: Suite de Hippolyte et Aricie

Reviewed on Fri 04 Nov, 2016

Be privileged to hear Daniel Harding commanding a detailed instrument-by-instrument understanding of Berlioz’s scoring, expressive and dynamic markings meticulously detailed and enthrallingly expounded.

Back in 1733, Rameau turned tables with Hippolyte et Aricie. Today it may also be radical to hear it played on modern instruments, as here. But don’t impulsively discard Daniel Harding, because his is a crisply enunciated, stylistically credible performance, from artistically deployed harpsichord continuo to the last double dot. Almost a century later, Berlioz free-spiritedly overrode “the normal categories of musical discourse” (David Cairns) in his Symphonie fantastique. For us, though, there’s a puzzle. Harding, like Colin Davis, Parvo Järvi and Otto Klemperer, includes cornets in the first, second, fourth and fifth movements as published in Breitkopf & Härtel’s 1900 edition. But Roger Norrington and Jos van Immerseel, both using period instruments, follow the New Berlioz 1971 score, where these instruments are deployed in the first, fourth and fifth only. Nevertheless, be privileged to hear Harding commanding a detailed instrument-by-instrument understanding of Berlioz’s scoring, expressive and dynamic markings meticulously detailed and enthrallingly expounded to form an awesome aural portrait of the ‘heroics’, terrors and ‘poetics’ pervading this extraordinary work.
–Nalen Anthoni