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Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Robin Ticciati, Scottish CO

Album Summary

>Berlioz, Hector : Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14
>Berlioz, Hector : Béatrice et Bénédict, Overture, H. 138
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

The multi-award winning Scottish Chamber Orchestra marks its debut recording under the direction of Principal Conductor Robin Ticciati with the majestic Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz. Named one of the top ten young 'conductors on the verge of greatness' by Gramophone Magazine, Robin is the perfect conductor to bring out the deep colors and emotions of this composition. "...filled with clarity and vitality." The Times

Sunday Times
This Fantastique is remarkable for its fresh insights...The opening ROveries - Passions is especially dreamlike, impressionistic almost...while the nightmarish sounds of the Witches' Sabbath emerge in the most vivid colours thanks to the clarity of the string sound and the squealing high woodwinds...Fantastique!

The Guardian
Few previous recordings of the Symphonie Fantastique will have used such a modest string section, but the transparency and lightness of touch Ticciati achieves is a real bonus...The overture to the opera Beatrice and Benedict, full of wonderful string interplay and characterful woodwind, makes a charming fill-up.

The Telegraph
Berlioz's scoring comes across with remarkable clarity, its textures translucent, its individual timbres well characterised, its mixes subtly variegated. The SCO also has the capability of full, rounded sonorities and explosive thrills when the occasion demands...Ticciati draws on these elements with both discretion and vitality, placing them within a thoughtfully chosen spectrum of colour and within an interpretation that is conceived cohesively.

The Times
Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique is delivered with a febrile, knife-edge energy. The sound is taut, lean; the tempos not sluggish, yet there's time for nuance and colour. Only in the last movements, the March to the Scaffold and Witches' Sabbath, is his approach too reticent and English. Highly impressive overall.

Financial Times
We hear transparent textures, a sinewy sound, a fleetness of rhythm and melodic expression - reminding us that the orchestral apparatus Berlioz inherited was simpler than the one he bequeathed. Ticciati has assumed Colin Davis's mantle in this music, giving it a natural pulse and dramatic shape.

Gramophone Magazine
The clarity, coordination and spectrum of colour in the orchestra are spot-on for Berlioz. The ear can thus readily appreciate the individuality of Berlioz's scoring. This is altogether a performance that has been thought through as an organic entity, a broad, vivid tableau in which images are sharply focused.

American Record Guide, September / October 2012
The performance is very good. The interpretation is deliberate and squarely phrased (geometrically speaking) but is not lacking in boldness and color. The string tone is not rich, but its clean, colorful string lines sound French, which is not a bad thing at all. It sounds as if the players are using some vibrato but not a lot. Trembley takes his time in between pauses in the early section of I - maybe too much - but the rest goes well, with some good cut and thrust. The 'Ball' is lively and good natured. One annoying aspect in these two movements is that the horns seem too present - probably a matter of recording balance, but I'm not sure. Some may not like the deliberateness, square phrasing, and straightish tone in 'Scene in the Fields', but none of those qualities is overdone, and the movement is enjoyable in a simple, straightforward way. The 'March' has angry timpani and generates some nice weight; the prelude to the beheading at the end of the movement is frightening (without the odd pullback of the Ticciati). The laugh that begins the finale is more cleanly executed, and the roar of the crowd is terrific. The dead sound of the bells is oddly fitting; and, while the tubas of the Dies Irae are reticent, the trombones (here and elsewhere) have plenty of imposing power, and overall this movement is very well done. This is a performance full of enthusiasm, but at full price without a coupling, it runs into a threshing machine for competition. I have to admit it has grown on me. Tremblay takes both repeats and uses the cornet in II. The notes do the job.

BBC Music Magazine, June 2012
The SCO remains one of the world's great chamber ensembles, with precision playing and clear, detailed articulation few can equal. Ticciati exploits this to create an almost cerebral, un-hallucinatory reading...What's lost in rich textures is regained in clarity and atmosphere...The orgiastic 'Witches Sabbath' feels a little delicate at first, but gathers febrile force in the finale.

bbc.co.uk, 21st September 2012
The sharp-focus clarity and litheness of this relatively small-scale account will come as a surprise to most listeners...but Ticciati's approach reaps great dividends.

International Record Review, May 2012
This is a very worthwhile addition to the vast discography of the Symphonie fantastique...Brass are crisp, bright but never overbearing, and the SCO woodwind are consistently impressive, both individually and collectively. The second reason to explore this disc is Robin Ticciati's conducting...it's unquestionably an impressive debut.

MusicWeb International, June 2012
For me Ticciati's vision and the playing of his orchestra succeed on every front...Ticciati combines modern instruments with period style and brings out the best of both worlds. This is a version that will blow off the cobwebs for someone who knows the work already and wants to explore something different.

The Arts Desk, 18th August 2012
Ticciati's version hits the spot. Horns snarl, bassoons strut, drums pound and the trombones are suitably leery. In a work usually played by over-upholstered big bands, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra's leaner, crisper sound is a breath of fresh air...Highly impressive stuff, and the wonderful Julio de Diego painting on the sleeve adds to the fun.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Usher Hall, Edinburgh (10/07/2011-10/10/2011).


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Works Details

>Berlioz, Hector : Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14
  • Conductor: Robin Ticciati
  • Ensemble: Scottish Chamber Orchestra
  • Notes: Usher Hall, Edinburgh (10/07/2011-10/10/2011)
  • Running Time: 54 min. 14 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 04/1830

>Berlioz, Hector : Béatrice et Bénédict, Overture, H. 138
  • Conductor: Robin Ticciati
  • Ensemble: Scottish Chamber Orchestra
  • Notes: Usher Hall, Edinburgh (10/07/2011-10/10/2011)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 14 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 08/1860-02/1862