'This disc is remarkable by any standards. First of all, the music. Francois-Joseph Gossec is hardly a household name, even among lovers of the Classical Era in music, and yet his symphonies established the French symphonic tradition. Along with Mehul, he was the leading composer of Revolutionary France, and his incredible Requiem, written in 1760 and published 20 years later, was aptly chosen to commemorate French citizens killed in the storming of the Bastille in 1789.
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
Gerard Lesne has led a unique career: largely self-taught, he began as a jazz and rock singer who not only converted to more serious music, but became identified as one of the leading countertenors in the early music genre. He has sung with several early music ensembles, including the Clemencic Consort and with the group he founded, Il Seminario Musicale. The sound quality of Lesne's voice has been described as the male counterpart to the female contralto.
Hector Berlioz was a French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique and Grande messe des morts (Requiem). Berlioz made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation. He specified huge orchestral forces for some of his works, and conducted several concerts with more than 1,000 musicians. He also composed around 50 songs. His influence was critical for the further development of Romanticism, especially in composers like Richard Wagner, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Franz Liszt, Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler and many others.
The Greek-born Dimitri Mitropoulos (1896–1960) was incredibly gifted – his photographic memory allowed him to conduct without a score in concert and also in rehearsal! After studies in Athens, Brussels and Berlin, he took various posts in Greece. In 1930, Mitropoulos played the solo part in Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.3 with the Berlin Philharmonic and conducted the work from the keyboard, becoming the first modern musician to do so. He made his US debut in 1936 and went on to become principal conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (1937–1949) and then music director of the New York Philharmonic (1951–1957), where he was eventually succeeded by Leonard Bernstein. He expanded the repertoire of the NYPO and championed Mahler’s symphonies in particular.
Hector Berlioz (December 11, 1803 – March 8, 1869) was a French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique and Grande Messe des morts (Requiem). Berlioz made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation. He specified huge orchestral forces for some of his works; as a conductor, he performed several concerts with more than 1,000 musicians. He also composed around 50 songs for voice and piano.