- Requiem (Grande Messe des morts), for tenor, chorus & orchestra, H. 75 (Op. 5)
- Symphonie funèbre et triomphale, for band, strings & chorus ad lib, H. 80 (Op. 15)
Among Sir Colin Davis' great Berlioz albums, his 1969 recording in Westminster Cathedral of the "Requiem, Op. 5," with the London Symphony and Chorus must be considered one of the most powerful in its physical impact, compelling in its wide range of expressions, and moving in its spiritual austerity -- in short, as satisfying a version as Berlioz ever could have wished for this imposing masterpiece. Of course, the spectacular high points of this "Grand Messe des morts" are sure to draw the most attention, and few listeners will be disappointed by the cataclysmic sonorities in the "Tuba mirum" (performed with four brass ensembles and eight sets of timpani, augmenting the expanded orchestra and choir) and in the only slightly less apocalyptic "Rex tremendae" and "Lacrymosa." But it's in the quiet, penitential moments where the "Requiem" is most spellbinding and affecting, and Davis draws subtle and highly expressive lines of counterpoint in the choral parts, in many places a cappella or with the barest of orchestral accompaniments. This 2007 reissue in The Originals series is rounded out with another Berlioz performance from 1969, the rousing performance at Wembley Town Hall of the "Symphonie funèbre et triomphale, Op. 15." In its somber mood, Classical textures, and martial pacing, this grandiose work is atypical of the emotionally volatile and flamboyant Berlioz; this commemorative symphony most closely resembles French band music in its thick scoring for brass, woodwinds, percussion, and chorus. While it is perfectly acceptable filler for this double-disc reissue, the "Symphonie" may seem relentlessly bombastic to some listeners and quite vulgar in comparison with the profound feeling of the "Requiem"; as a consequence, it should be heard separately to be properly appreciated.