Friday, 17 July 2009

283. Hector Berlioz - Grande Messe Des Morts (1837)


Title: Grande Messe Des Morts, Symphonie Fantastique
Performer: Robert Tear, London Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir
Year: 1980
Length: 90 minutes


At this moment on the list my favourite composer seems to be without a doubt Hector Berlioz. Even if his presence in the list is small and his albums are far between they always seem to be the ones I look forward to the most.

This was no exception. I was anxiously awaiting this great Requiem with its extensive orchestration including 4 different brass bands and 4 choirs! When it finally came around it was more subdued than I expected but by no means was it a disappointment.

Berlioz's orchestration is innovative throughout, he knows how to keep a mood going and how to reinforce or punctuate it using this extremely powerful orchestra. He is also amazing at using dissonance to reinforce feeling and few things in the 1830s have sounded as modern as the perfect lacrymosa. Amazing.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

In relation to the number of singers and strings, Berlioz indicates in the score that, "The number [of performers] indicated is only relative. If space permits, the chorus may be doubled or tripled, and the orchestra be proportionally increased. But in the event of an exceptionally large chorus, say 700 to 800 voices, the entire chorus should only be used for the Dies Irae, the Tuba Mirum, and the Lacrymosa, the rest of the movements being restricted to 400 voices."

The work premiered with over four hundred performers.


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