ベルリオーズ：幻想交響曲(1966年録音）（期間生産限定盤） Limited Edition
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これが全世界を100年間感動させてきたクラシックの名盤だ！ ラフマニノフから五嶋みどりまで、2大クラシック・レーベル、ソニー・クラシカルとRCA RED SEALを中心にソニー・ミュージックが所有する多彩なクラシックの名盤・銘盤・超盤・定盤・迷盤・奇盤・珍盤・お宝盤を、新規ライナーノーツ、一部世界・日本初CD化も含む驚愕の価格1,000円＋税（2枚組は￥1,500＋税）で100タイトルを２ヶ月にわたってリリース。
I had some reservations regarding PentaTone's remastering of Ozawa's Ravel disc, recently released on SACD. But I have nothing but praise for this one. Listening in two-channel (stereo) only, I compared the SACD to DG's 1991 "Galleria" CD (I have not heard any subsequent DG releases of this recording). In comparison, the Galleria CD sounds as if the original master tapes were not used (although I suspect that they were). The SACD is strikingly cleaner and more refined. The acoustic has also been substantially cleaned up and defined on the SACD. The CD, in addition to a slight rawness on brass, had a rather muddy, ill-defined acoustic space. The SACD retains all the glories of Symphony Hall but removes the mush. It's still warmly reverberant and full, but now the actual space is defined, clearly placing the orchestra within it. The entire recording sounds so much more real and 3-dimensional as a result. It sounds as if the Boston Symphony is laid out right in front of the listener! It's that good.
This disc holds much promise for future PentaTone releases in this series. My mouth waters at the announcement of Tilson Thomas's Boston Rite of Spring later this year. If PentaTone works the same magic on that as they did on this one, it will be a religious experience. Even in two-channel, this SACD is spectacular. I can only image how excellent it is in 4-channel.
Right at the start of Seiji Ozawa's tenure as the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1973 Deutsche Grammophon decided to have the young conductor record several works that would take advantage of the new technological marvel in home entertainment: quadraphonic audio. Audiophiles who dreamed of multichannel playback of complex classical works purchased the required receivers, high-end cartridges and emblematic four speakers which were placed in each corner of the room, sat back in their Naugahyde recliners, closed their eyes and listened in absolute bliss. Usually, they quickly opened their eyes, stopped listening and groaned because this was never true multichannel audio. The first limiting factor was quad vinyl, which by its very nature introduced distortions, skips and pops. Competing technologies and so-so equipment made quad a confusing enterprise for consumers. Poor marketing finally sounded the death knell for the quadraphonic audio format. The recent issues afflicting the SACD format which have limited its acceptance in America are remarkably similar.
DGG recorded Ozawa's superb performance of the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique in 1973 as a bookend with a brilliant performance of the French composer's La Damnation de Faust. The two recordings have now been simultaneously released by Pentatone in true multichannel sound as originally envisioned.
Ozawa understood Berlioz like few conductors have, superbly conveying the composer's slightly overwrought dramatic hallucination of his youthful infatuation with the beautiful Irish Shakespearean actress: Harriet Smithson. Berlioz composed the symphony as a kind-of calling card to get her attention after several love letters failed to do so. Smithson finally heard the symphony in 1832 and the two were married the following year. The marriage was not a happy one and they were eventually divorced. As if illustrating the observation that "life is short but art is long", this great symphony has outlived the transitory events that engendered it.
Berlioz had a genius for orchestration and the Symphonie Fantastique features a large orchestra with a particularly robust brass section. A section which included two specimens of the exotic early 19th century serpentine ophicleides, a large brass instrument in the shape of a serpent which in modern performances of the symphony is usually (if inaccurately) replaced by tubas. Add four horns, three trombones, two trumpets and four bassoons, a full complement of woodwinds, hefty percussion and strings and you have a prescription for a top-heavy symphony with dense orchestration and turgid tempos. But Berlioz was a master of creating transparent textures regardless of the orchestra's size and he uses his orchestra as if it were a single, agile instrument. Portions of the symphony have an almost gossamer lightness in which the use of the two harps are never overwhelmed. The brilliant orchestration, the advanced harmonic structure, the skillful use of the orchestra in a dramatic context, all were decades ahead of their time making this symphony a work of the future rather than one that looks backwards to Mozart, Haydn and even Beethoven.
Ozawa has the measure of the symphony's drama, orchestral color, textures and complex orchestration. This is a difficult symphony to get right. It is easy to fall into the trap of wallowing in the composer's emotional, psychedelic opium journey into hellish hallucinations. Ozawa conducts this quintessential Romantic era symphony with Classical era restraint. conveys the work's constantly shifting textures with the delicacy of a piece by Ravel and the drama of the final movements as if it were Don Giovanni descending into Hell. Ozawa was a superb conductor of Berlioz and you can hear it in this recording. The Boston Symphony Orchestra play beautifully in excellent multichannel sound. Each section of the orchestra is well-focused in space, which helps to keep the symphony's complex textures clearly and distinctly woven across the entire work. The soundstage is wide and deep and each portion of the symphony featuring soloists remains carefully enunciated throughout the recording. Pentatone has done an exemplary job of preparing these 40 year old tapes for SACD release. The combination of superlative performance and fine multichannel sound make this a recording that is easy to recommend.