Berlioz was the first Romantic master of the orchestra. His music hasn't been surpassed in terms of sheer brilliance and accuracy of effect. This set includes all of the overtures, the Symphonie fantastique, Harold in Italy, the Royal Hunt and Storm from Les Troyens, orchestral music from The Damnation of Faust and Romeo and Juliet, and the completely insane Grande Symphonie funebre et triumphale. Davis achieved his reputation as a conductor as a Berlioz specialist, and he proves an expert advocate on behalf of this stimulating, bizarre, and totally original genius.
…This is a performance that holds your attention from first note to last–a rare feat in this work. (Munch's later Deutsche Grammophon effort pales by comparison, both sonically and interpretively.) If you want this Berlioz Requiem (and you do), SACD is the way to hear it.
This set is self-recommending. The names of Charles Munch and Hector Berlioz evoke the same respect and admiration as Bernstein/Mahler, Beecham/Delius, or Kempe/Strauss, and with good reason. For many years virtually any of these performances could be listed as a prime recommendation, even in a sometimes very crowded field, and the only point worth mentioning in connection with the latest reissue is the fact that RCA finally has gotten it right and included all of Munch's Boston Berlioz recordings. This means that, unlike the previous box, this one includes the stereo Roméo et Juliette (plus the first, mono one) as well as the second (and finer) Symphonie fantastique from 1962.
–David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Belgian soprano Anne-Catherine Gillet has had a significant career in European opera houses, but she has been little-known in the United States. Her 2011 solo album debut, an outstanding recording of three song cycles, ought to change that, though, and bring her to the attention of a broader public. She sings with a tone that is sweet, full, focused, and brightly colorful. Her intonation and technique are irreproachable. Her voice is absolutely solid, from the depths that Berlioz requires to a lyrically soaring top.
This release features a double bill of Massenet's Le Portrait de Manon and Berlioz's song cycle Les nuits d'ete, recorded from live staged performances at the Royal Opera House with artists from the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme and the Southbank Sinfonia led by Geoffrey Paterson and Volker Krafft. This is the first time the composers Massenet and Berlioz have appeared as part of the Opera Rara catalogue. The single-disc set comes with a lavishly illustrated book, including a complete libretto for Le Portrait de Manon and song translations for Les nuits d'ete, as well as detailed notes on both pieces written by the eminent musicologist Hugh Macdonald.
The Flight of the Condor: Ice, Wind and Fire is a documentary on The BBC World program, first aired in 1982. Directed and produced by Michael Andrews, who spent eighteen months in the Andes mountain range along with award-winning cameramen Martin Saunders, Hugh Miles and Rodger Jackman, the documentary shows wildlife as well as the particular Andean landscapes.