Author Topic: Hector Berlioz  (Read 67612 times)

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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Hector Berlioz
« on: April 12, 2007, 06:22:22 PM »
The place to kick off your shoes and discuss all things Berlioz!

To be honest, I spent the better part of my listening career avoiding Berlioz. It took a chance encounter five years ago in my car to change all that.

The piece was the starlit Les Nuits D'été. Stopped me dead in my tracks.

What first struck me about the piece was its unorthodox construction. Seemed kinda 'loose' compared to some of the more stricter classical forms. Though before long I jettisoned any preconceptions about form and took to basking in the wondrous sounds.

Not to mention as I listened on an overarching sense of architecture began to take shape. What first appeared formless began to take on perfect symmetry. And I've come to enjoy this quality most in Berlioz: his "formlessness" begets the most dizzying of architectural designs.

Been a fan ever since. :)


« Last Edit: July 11, 2010, 04:48:20 PM by Dancing Divertimentian »
Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

karlhenning

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Re: Hector Berlioz
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2007, 03:25:58 AM »
Berlioz's assurance in the longer span is marvelous.  I loved Roméo et Juliette before I quite had its measure :-)

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Hector Berlioz
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2007, 03:29:28 AM »
I need to hear more Berlioz!

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Offline BachQ

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Re: Hector Berlioz
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2007, 05:54:21 AM »
Anyone in the mood for comparing and contrasting Berlioz and Elgar?

karlhenning

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Re: Hector Berlioz
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2007, 05:58:35 AM »
Both wrote for choruses of The Damned . . . .

Offline Anne

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Re: Hector Berlioz
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2007, 08:27:03 AM »
In the section of Berlioz' "Romeo alone" from Romeo and Juliette there is some music that is mirrored in the very first notes of Wagner's opening prelude to Tristan und Isolde.  There is a chord, then ascending notes, another chord followed by ascending notes - all this is repeated a total of 3 times.  It was really a nice feeling to discover it.  Nice to know Wagner knew his Berlioz.

I mentioned my discovery on another BB and Larry Rinkel said Leonard Bernstein had mentioned the same comparison in his "Young People's Concerts."

karlhenning

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Re: Hector Berlioz
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2007, 11:11:29 AM »
In the section of Berlioz' "Romeo alone" from Romeo and Juliette there is some music that is mirrored in the very first notes of Wagner's opening prelude to Tristan und Isolde.  There is a chord, then ascending notes, another chord followed by ascending notes - all this is repeated a total of 3 times.  It was really a nice feeling to discover it.  Nice to know Wagner knew his Berlioz.

Indeed; he asked Berlioz to send him a score.

Offline val

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Re: Hector Berlioz
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2007, 12:32:50 AM »
Berlioz is one of the greatest composers after Beethoven in the XIX century.

Les Troyens, an extraordinary opera, with an unique sense of tragedy (see the Cassandra character in the first part).

Romeo et Juliette, some of the most sublime pages ever composed for an orchestra. The vocal parts, to me, are not at the same level.

Symphonie Fantastique, Harold in Italy: the art of the orchestration had never reached so hight.

La Damnation de Faust: two arias, are enough to show the melodic genius of Berlioz, in special Marguerite Aria "D'amour l'ardente flame".

L'Enfance du Christ: a delightful work.

Offline knight66

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Re: Hector Berlioz
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2007, 04:48:54 AM »

The piece was the starlit Les Nuits D'été. Stopped me dead in my tracks.

What first struck me about the piece was its unorthodox construction. Seemed kinda 'loose' compared to some of the more stricter classical forms. Though before long I jettisoned any preconceptions about form and took to basking in the wondrous sounds. 


This piece was the first orchestral song cycle. It is typical of Berlioz to play with form and he reinvented several experimentally. For instance one symphony, Lelio, has spoken dialogue in it.

Les Nuits was originally designed for a group of four singers to perform, Sop/Alto/Tenor/Bass. I am not sure when the tradition took hold of one singer performing them all, but it does require playing around with the keys a bit. On the upside, the Gardiner disc with four singers somehow sounds more like a collection of songs rather then a cycle. A single singer is more likely to carry you on a journey.

Mike
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karlhenning

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Re: Hector Berlioz
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2007, 06:40:06 AM »
. . . I am not sure when the tradition took hold of one singer performing them all, but it does require playing around with the keys a bit.

That last must have the composer chafing in the afterlife, eh, Mike?

Offline knight66

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Re: Hector Berlioz
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2007, 10:16:53 AM »
Possibly, though he may just feel satisfied that he is so frequently performed. He never heard the full version of The Trojans.

Despite the altered keys, I do think we gain more by hearing one singer think us through the cycle. On another thread we were shooting out the pros and cons of altered keys in Schubert songs.

The key is important, but it would certainly cut right down on who can perform them if we keep to strict authenticity. In this circumstance, I am willing to compromise.

Mike
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karlhenning

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Re: Hector Berlioz
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2007, 10:19:03 AM »
In fact, Mike, I must be so willing, as well, since the fact is I have only heard it sung by one singer (at a time) :-)

And, check PM, sir!

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Hector Berlioz
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2007, 08:14:21 PM »
Les Nuits was originally designed for a group of four singers to perform, Sop/Alto/Tenor/Bass. I am not sure when the tradition took hold of one singer performing them all, but it does require playing around with the keys a bit. On the upside, the Gardiner disc with four singers somehow sounds more like a collection of songs rather then a cycle. A single singer is more likely to carry you on a journey.

Thanks, Mike. Never knew that before. :) Why does it not surprise me that Berlioz would have a trick up his sleeve?

Mention of that Gardiner disc got me to wondering about the HIP recording that I own and wouldn't you know but Herreweghe opts for the one singer route!

It would be interesting to read of his reasonings for this but the liner notes are mum on the issue.

I guess even HIPsters have disagreements as to what is "authentic".


Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Danny

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Re: Hector Berlioz
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2007, 09:46:57 AM »
Need more Berlioz.  At first I hated the Symphonie Fantastique--and that biased me to his other works--but hearing a version by Beecham made the S.F. grow on me (my first copy was Ormandy with the PO and it just didin't sizzle like it should).  Some of the other odds and ends I've heard are also marvellous.  I need to get off my rocker and buy more Berlioz.

Offline knight66

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Re: Hector Berlioz
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2007, 09:57:06 AM »
You do, you do...you might try the dramatic Symphony Romeo and Juliet. It is full of sweeping passionate music. The full version has some vocal movements from the chorus and one appearance each from an alto and bass. If you are allergic to voices in a symphony, then there are several recordings of the orchestral movements only. One very fine one is by Giulini. If you are thinking of the full version, I like Muti's interpretation a lot.

Mike
« Last Edit: April 27, 2007, 08:14:29 PM by knight »
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
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karlhenning

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Re: Hector Berlioz
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2007, 09:58:10 AM »
You do you do...you might try the dramatic Symphony Romeo and Juliet . . . If you are thinking of the full version, I like Muti's interpretation a lot.

Delighted to hear, Mike!

Danny

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Re: Hector Berlioz
« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2007, 10:15:04 AM »
You do you do...you might try the dramatic Symphony Romeo and Juliet. It is full of sweeping passionate music. The full version has some vocal movements from the chorus and one appearance each from an alto and bass. If you are allergic to voices in a symphony, then there are several recordings of the orchestral movements only. One very fie one is by Giulini. If you are thinking of the full version, I like Muti's interpretation a lot.

Mike

I like voices in symphonies.  Will get on it, Knight!

karlhenning

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Re: Hector Berlioz
« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2007, 10:18:35 AM »
I like voices in symphonies.

Ставайте руский людие!

Danny

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Re: Hector Berlioz
« Reply #18 on: April 27, 2007, 10:20:41 AM »
Ставайте руский людие!

 :-*

Offline orbital

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Re: Hector Berlioz
« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2008, 06:52:19 PM »
Not much to do with his music, but for those in NY who are interested, the famous Berlioz painting by Courbet is currently being exhibited at the Met.