Enjoy a track from Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique

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The Symphonie Fantastique is probably Berlioz’s best known work. A macabre programmatic symphony based on the visions of a young artist under the influence of opium, it incorporates five movements, including a ball, a march to an execution scaffold and a witches Sabbath.

It is a groundbreaking work that solidified Berlioz’s reputation as a startlingly original composer. Before completing the symphony in 1830, the composer wrote: ‘For some time I have had a descriptive symphony … in my brain. When I have released it, I mean to stagger the musical world.’ His use of leitmotifs to represent different characters in the work is extraordinary and the vividness of the orchestration was revolutionary at the time it was written.

‘The playing from the London Symphony Orchestra is, as is often, exceptionally refined, yet very much alive and full of colour,’ writes Christopher Dingle in his review of this recording in our Christmas issue.

‘Under Gergiev, there is an exceptional hush to the Symphonie Fantastique’s opening, while moments of bombast are driven relentlessly,’ he adds.

Click ‘download now’ to enjoy the second movement – ‘Un bal’ – and click here to buy the complete recording.

 

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