Monday, 27 July 2009

288. Hector Berlioz - Romeo et Juliette (1839)


Title: Romeo et Juliette
Performer: London Symphony Orchestra, Daniella Barcelona, Kenneth Traver, Orlin Anatassov
Conductor: Colin Davis
Year: 2000
Length: 90 minutes


Another Berlioz composition which is truly amazing, however I'm not so sure about the recording. It often sounds a bit too low even in the supposedly exciting parts the volume never seems to go high enough.

However, the composition is really amazing in its innovativeness. It is not hard to understand why Wagner admired Berlioz so much, in fact this sounds positively Wagnerian in bits.

So again Berlioz surprises in a positive way with his extreme flair for the dramatic. The composition even if it might at times sound operatic is most definitely symphonic, it represents scenes rather than tell a story and it does this beautifully. Amazing stuff.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Structurally and musically, Roméo et Juliette is most indebted to Beethoven's 9th symphony - not just due to the use of soloists and choir, but in factors such as the weight of the vocal contribution being in the finale, and also in aspects of the orchestration such as the theme of the trombone recitative at the Introduction. The roles of Roméo and Juliette are represented by the orchestra, and the narrative aspects by the voices. Berlioz's reasoning follows:

If, in the famous garden and cemetery scenes, the dialogue of the two lovers, Juliet's asides, and Romeo's passionate outbursts are not sung, if the duets of love and despair are given to the orchestra, the reasons for this are numerous and easy to understand. First, and this reason alone would be sufficient, it is a symphony and not an opera. Second, since duets of this nature have been treated vocally a thousand times by the greatest masters, it was wise as well as unusual to attempt another means of expression.


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