The San Francisco Symphony under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas performs one of the most astounding symphonies in the repertoire, the Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz. What presumption by this 26-year-old French composer, to think that he could write and produce (he personally hired the players) a massive five-movement symphony! Strange things happen when presumption is matched by genius: the young man created an enduring masterpiece that is still fresh and exciting today, nearly 200 years later…
Colin Davis is arguably the finest Berlioz conductor in the world; both of his recordings of Les Troyens are magnificent and elsewhere he's rarely bettered. His winning streak continues with this live performance with the LSO of Harold in Italy and the ballet music from Troyens. Tabea Zimmermann's solo viola is as grand, brilliantly flavorful, and picturesque as the LSO's playing; and the entire performance swift and rhythmically propulsive is simply fantastic.
Igor Markevitch was a leading conductor, known for brilliant performances, especially of twentieth century music. He was also a composer who attracted some interest in his own day. His parents left Kiev when he was two years old. Markevitch was brought up in Vevey, Switzerland. He took piano lessons from his father and then with Paul Loyonnet and also started to compose.
With the release of this live recording of Hector Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, RCO Live celebrates the start of its collaboration with Daniele Gatti as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra's seventh chief conductor on 9 September 2016. His unconventional take on this spectacular score evokes the astonishment audiences must have experienced at the time of the 1830 premiere. It is exactly this sense of surprise and freshness - founded on a thorough knowledge of the score - and the sheer joy of making music together that prompted the members of the RCO to choose Daniele Gatti as their new chief conductor.
Les Troyens is a tour de force that ranges from fiery military marches to intense choruses, passionate soliloquies and the lyrical love duets of Dido and Aeneas. For Hector Berlioz, librettist and composer, the opera became the work of decades and the passion of a lifetime, the culmination of his literary love affair with Virgil's Aeneid and with two tragic heroines, Cassandra and Dido. David McVicar's staging is on an enormous scale, assembling one of the largest casts ever seen at Covent Garden. The sweeping theme of the rise and fall of empires runs throughout Les Troyens, along with moving meditations on love and honour.
John Eliot Gardiner conducts his Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique through two concerts of Berlioz compositions. The 'Symphonie Fantastique' is an orchestral tour de force which is central to the repertoire of every major orchestra. It is performed here on original instruments in its original 1830s orchestration in the atmospheric old hall of the Paris Conservatoire where it was first heard. Also included is the first performance of the newly discovered 'Messe Solennelle' with the Monteverdi choir. Written when Berlioz was just 20 years old, it was thought lost until its rediscovery in 1992. The first performance of this large-scale Mass for 150 years was filmed in London's Westminster Cathedral. Gardiner's period-instrument orchestra gives characteristically idiomatic performances of these seminal works (which are also linked thematically, through Berlioz's extensive re-use of material from the Messe).