tue 07/02/2023

Berlioz

The Damnation of Faust, LPO, Gardner, RFH review - the devil's in the detail

No work gives its listeners such pleasure on the way to hell (and back) as Berlioz’s rule-busting “dramatic legend”, The Damnation of Faust. It delivers not just flamboyant thrills, but low comedy, high drama, pathos, terror, nostalgia, pastoral...

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Classical CDs: Symphonies, suppers and knitting needles

 Roger Norrington: The Complete Erato Recordings (Erato)Richard Osborne’s booklet essay contains some telling words from Sir Roger Norrington, tucked away at the end of the final paragraph: “I don’t mind if a performance is unhistorical; I do...

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L’Enfance du Christ, Monteverdi Choir, ORR, Gardiner, St Martin-in-the-Fields review – clear-cut Christmas story

Time, place and performers gave this performance of Berlioz’s typically original “Sacred Trilogy” a special significance. Nothing in it is more striking, in choice of text and the music to illustrate it, than the scene where Hebrew refugees Mary,...

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Gerhaher, Faust, Wigmore Hall review - husky shadings and dark hues

Christian Gerhaher and a string ensemble led by Isabelle Faust presented here a programme of works with a nocturnal theme. Gerhaher’s voice is an instrument of husky shadings and dark hues, so the night theme seemed wholly appropriate. The impetus...

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Classical CDs Weekly: Berlioz, Markus Reuter, The Mozartists

 Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Rêverie et caprice, La mort d'Ophélie, Sara la baigneuse Utah Symphony/Thierry Fischer, with Philippe Quint (violin) (Hyperion)Just two big symphonies by French composers can be counted as standard repertoire....

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Suzman, London Schools Symphony Orchestra, Edwards, Barbican review - a cabaret from hell

The devil wore all manner of outlandish attire in last night's chameleonic programme devised by Peter Ash, the London Schools Symphony Orchestra's challenging artistic director. There was searing verse from Marlowe, Milton and Goethe; music from...

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Roméo et Juliette, LSO, Tilson Thomas, Barbican review - surprisingly sober take on Berlioz epic

So much was fresh and exciting about Michael Tilson Thomas's years as the London Symphony Orchestra's Principal Conductor (1988-1995; I don't go as far back as his debut, the 50th anniversary of which is celebrated this season). Carved in the memory...

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Prom 72/3: Aurora Orchestra, Collon review – Berlioz not quite lost in showbiz

For a few seconds last night, the Royal Albert Hall turned into London’s biggest – and cheesiest – disco. At the end of the Ball movement in the Aurora Orchestra’s dramatised version of the Symphonie Fantastique, Berlioz’s tipsily lurching waltz...

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Prom 59: Benvenuto Cellini, Monteverdi Choir, ORR, Gardiner review - don't stop the carnival

So we never got the ultimate Proms spectacular, the four brass bands at the points of the Albert Hall compass for Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts, in the composer's 150th anniversary year. Yet Sir John Eliot Gardiner has learnt how to work the...

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Classical CDs Weekly: Gounod, James MacMillan, Johannes Pramsohler

 Gounod: Symphonies 1 and 2 Iceland Symphony Orchestra/Yan Pascal Tortelier (Chandos)Roger Nichols’ lucid sleeve note underlines the point that Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique singularly failed to kick off a 19th century French symphonic...

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Prom 37: The Childhood of Christ, Hallé, Pascal/ Prom 38: Bach Cantatas, Solomon's Knot reviews - holy radiance great and small

Berlioz's most intimate oratorio certainly isn't just for Christmas – but, given its scale, is it right for the Proms? Certainly in anniversary year we'd hoped for something bigger: the Requiem, turned to mush earlier this year in St Paul's...

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theartsdesk at the Three Choirs Festival - the beautiful and the damned

Our greatest Berlioz scholar, David Cairns, has called Le Damnation de Faust “an opera of the mind’s eye, not of the stage,” and I’ve certainly never seen a production that successfully staged its curious, episodic, actionless mixture of set piece,...

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