- Symphonie fantastique for orchestra ("Episode de la vie d'un Artiste...en cinq parties"), H.48 (Op. 14)
- Marche de Rákóczy (Rákóczy March), for orchestra (Le damnation de Faust), H. 109
- Overture to "Benvenuto Cellini" (Grande Ouverture de Benvenuto Cellini) for orchestra, H. 76b (Op. 23)
- Le carnival romain (Roman Carnival Overture), ouverture catactéristique for orchestra, H.95 (Op. 9)
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As a handy introduction to the music of Hector Berlioz, the father of modern orchestration, this album brings together his most popular works and offers excellent performances by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Charles Mackerras, Yuri Simonov, and Alexander Gibson. Bearing in mind that there are always variances in interpretation between conductors, these are still fairly consistent performances that go well together, insofar as they effectively portray Berlioz as the Romantic showman par excellence. These concert favorites are among the most thrilling in the repertoire, and the fire and sonority that Gibson and Simonov bring to their respective recordings are sure to excite listeners, as will the precision and balance Mackerras brings to his. Gibson makes the Overture to "Benvenuto Cellini" dashing and adventurous, and Simonov presents the "Rákóczy March" from "La Damnation de Faust" with an enormous sound that makes the orchestra seem almost twice as large as it is, something Berlioz would have relished. Mackerras is somewhat more restrained in delivery, and his readings of the ouverture caractéristique "Le carnaval Romain, Op. 9," and the "Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14," show a slight leaning toward the refined Classical style that is this conductor's métier. One might wish Mackerras had gone for more intensity and bravado, but there is enough of Berlioz's wild personality in these works that those characteristics come through without any extra effort. Similarly, one might desire a fuller sound in the Overture to "Benvenuto Cellini" and a quicker pace in the "Rákóczy March," but the RPO supplies enough energy and dynamic power in its playing to make them completely acceptable. These 20-bit digital recordings date from the mid-'90s, and even though there are some audible differences in acoustics, due to changes of venues, they all sound superb.