Pierre Monteux conducts the San Francisco Symphony in ‘The March to the Scaffold’ from Berlioz’s ‘Symphonie Fantastique.’

This is a typical Monteux performance in several ways — the strongly marked and energized rhythms, the crisp and compact phrasings and the clear and distilled instrumental textures (which you can hear despite the primitive sound quality of this 1951 recording) are hallmarks of his style. The orchestra isn’t always up to our present day standards, but they pull the piece off con gusto.

Incidentally, I’ve never heard the passage at the 2:14 mark of the recording (and again at 2:54), where Berlioz divides a single phrase between several parts of the orchestra, played better than here. It’s tricky.

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