Berlioz’s greatest, most grandiose opera is full of drama, weird and wonderful orchestrations and vocal magic.
Ben Heppner, Michelle DeYoung, Petra Lang, Sara Mingardo, Peter Mattei, Stephen Milling, Kenneth Tarver, LSO & Chorus/Colin Davis
LSO Live LSO0010
London Classical Players/Roger Norrington
Virgin 628 5792
Grande Messe des morts
Berlioz wasn’t much of a believer, but this 80-minute belter certainly God-fearing – 16 timpani, four antiphonal brass bands, more than 100 strings and 100 voices.
Peter Schreier, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Charles Munch
DG 477 7561
This attractive song cycle, setting the poetry of Gautier, originally written for baritone or mezzo and piano, has since been rearranged for soprano and orchestra.
Régine Crespin (soprano), L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Ernest Ansermet
Decca 475 712
La damnation de Faust
Setting Goethe’s poem Faust, this large-scale oratorio is written for orchestra,solo voices and chorus.
Janet Baker, Nicolai Gedda, Paris Opéra Chorus, Orchestre de Paris & LSO/Prêtre & Gibson
EMI 381 4932
Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.