Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique—Toronto Symphony/Sir Andrew Davis

Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique—Toronto Symphony/Sir Andrew Davis

The wonderful Toronto Symphony Orchestra is in another Golden Age, built from near bankruptcy 20 years ago by a talented backroom team, superb hires and a brilliant orchestral trainer in Peter Oundjian. Oundjian hired almost half the orchestra present on this recording. He was an inspired choice at the time when it was more of an Iron Age than Golden in The Big Smoke.

Replacing Oundjian is the recently appointed Spaniard Gustavo Gimeno. He was a Concertgebouw section percussionist who jumped into conducting quite late and is enjoying a very fast upward trajectory via Luxembourg and now the plum TSO gig.

Renée Fleming—Lieder

Renée Fleming—Lieder

Renée Fleming is a glorious singer of lieder, showcased here in a 2019 CD release of Romantic and late Romantic art songs. Works by Brahms, Schumann and Mahler are included, with the latter represented by his ‘Rückert-Lieder’ in the orchestral version. The Brahms and Schumann songs are accompanied by pianist Hartmut Höll. His playing, and the Münchner Philharmoniker conducted by the very musical Christian Thielemann are spectacular.

In conjunction with a stellar recording by Decca—I’m hard pressed to think of a recent recording with a better piano tone—Fleming in mainstream repertoire is pretty hard to beat.