The Bonn Philharmonic Choir
(Thomas Neuhoff chorus master)
Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)
Roméo et Juliette, Op. 17
Dramatic Symphony after Shakespeare’s Tragedy
The revolution continues. Several years after the subversive breakthrough of his Symphonie fantastique, Hector Berlioz ventured to write a “Symphonie dramatique” based on the world’s most famous love story: Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This work, which will be championed by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra, begins like an oratorio and in various other parts sounds like a ballet score, a pantomime, or a tone poem, only to conclude with a spectacular scene in the style of French Grand Opéra. At the same time, it encompasses the outlines of a traditional four-movement symphony within its unusual larger structure. And so concertgoers really have it made: in one and the same evening they get to experience profoundly romantic music, overwhelming drama, great literature, and superb vocal artistry. Anyone who believed that the history of the symphony had reached its end with Ludwig van Beethoven would have been forced to change his opinion thanks to this great French eccentric, Berlioz.
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