Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique. Michael Tilson Thomas directs the San Francisco Symphony in a performance of Symphonie Fantastique as part of the "Keeping Score" outreach program of the San Francisco Symphony. In addition, Thomas narrates a 55-minute Public Television educational program about Berlioz and the Symphonie fantastique. The TV recording was directed by Gary Halvorson. Released 2009, disc has Dolby TrueHD 7.1 sound. Grade: NA
Thomas is as good a speaker and teacher as he is a conductor. The documentary has all the production values you could hope for like gorgeous shots of Paris and other locations in France and Italy, excellent writing based on careful research, and expert movie making. Thomas tells about the life of Berlioz, and he makes the Symphonie fantastique come alive as he explains the themes and aspects of the music in relation to the dramatic loves of young Hector. So we would give the documentary an A+.
The PQ and SQ of the San Francisco Symphony performance of Symphonie fantastique is probably as good as could be expected with the technology available in 2009. But the video suffers from a bad case of DVDitis as is explained in our special article on making a good HDVD of a symphony performance. We need to review this once more to evaluate the video content and give this title a grade.
Here are two clips. Both are in SD but still have nice PQ.