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Leonard Slatkin and the orchestra of France’s second city may seem an odd pairing, but their bargain-price Berlioz– first a triumphant Symphonie Fantastique and now Harold in Italy – tell a different story.

This four-movement viola concerto – part romantic narrative, part reverie, part hymn to nature – has never had the popularity it deserves, but here it comes across as a winner, despite an imperfect solo performance by Lise Berthaud. The Lyon orchestra luxuriates in Berlioz’s instrumental colours, and the fillers include swaggering renditions of the Benvenuto Cellini and Roman Carnival overtures.

Berlioz

Harold in Italy

Orchestre National de Lyon/Leonard Slatkin

(Naxos)

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