Berlioz: Harold en Italie; Les francs-juges Overture; Rêverie et caprice

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Berlioz
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Harold en Italie; Les francs-juges Overture; Rêverie et caprice
PERFORMER: Rivka Golani (viola), Igor Gruppman (violin); San Diego SO/Yoav Talmi
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553034
Naxos often gives us pleasure by introducing artists otherwise unknown. Talmi has real feeling for Berlioz; his tempi are sensible and the orchestra lacks only the last ounce of abandonment. The violin solo in Rêverie et caprice, based on a rejected aria from Benvenuto Cellini, feels stronger than usual, the ripe-toned Gruppman tying the contrasted tempi together with conviction. The Francs-juges Overture, one of Berlioz’s earliest pieces, works if played with this go-for-it approach. Harold is less satisfactory; the vivid recording is a little top-heavy (but the reminiscence in the finale is beautifully distanced). Golani’s viola sings pleasantly, but there are some odd slips and splashes, minor blemishes on an otherwise sensitive performance. Excellent value; but Davis or Gardiner give finer performances. Julian Rushton

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