Author Topic: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works  (Read 5537 times)

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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works
« Reply #20 on: September 03, 2016, 04:12:56 PM »
(The absence of R&J and Faust may seem perverse but I have not yet warmed to the whole of either work. Still trying though  ;) )

How so? I'd much rather say Roméo et Juliette is flawed as a whole.

Sarge, North Star, what is it about R&J that you take issue with? Is it the snail's pace in places? :) Those are the challenging spots for me, too.

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

Offline Jo498

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Re: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works
« Reply #21 on: September 03, 2016, 11:49:03 PM »
How so? I'd much rather say Roméo et Juliette is flawed as a whole.

I agree that the huge hybrid with choir of R&J is also problematic. However, it is also far more ambitious because of its strange hybrid form (so I cut it more slack) and the best music of R & J, especially but not only the love scene is among the best Berlioz ever. Or put differently, I'd prefer the instrumental suite (that was sometimes recorded in earlier times) with Ball at Capulets, Mab scherzo, Love scene and another excerpt or two to Harold (maybe even to Fantastique). For me, except for the first movement, Harold is not as good and the finale is rather weak.
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Offline North Star

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Re: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works
« Reply #22 on: September 04, 2016, 12:16:05 AM »
I agree that the huge hybrid with choir of R&J is also problematic. However, it is also far more ambitious because of its strange hybrid form (so I cut it more slack) and the best music of R & J, especially but not only the love scene is among the best Berlioz ever. Or put differently, I'd prefer the instrumental suite (that was sometimes recorded in earlier times) with Ball at Capulets, Mab scherzo, Love scene and another excerpt or two to Harold (maybe even to Fantastique). For me, except for the first movement, Harold is not as good and the finale is rather weak.
Well you pretty much answered DD's question for me. And note that I still have the piece on my list. :D
You didn't answer my question, though - what's wrong with Harold?
« Last Edit: September 04, 2016, 12:19:12 AM by North Star »
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Offline Ghost Sonata

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Re: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works
« Reply #23 on: September 04, 2016, 04:22:38 AM »
Well you pretty much answered DD's question for me. And note that I still have the piece on my list. :D
You didn't answer my question, though - what's wrong with Harold?

I thought Jo might say that Harold is barely a reflection of the literary work it evokes. Berlioz picked scenes that appealed to him for their musical potential and left it at that, so that not only is the work episodic (a four-letter word for some listeners; doesn't bother me, however) it does not truly embody Byron's poem (nope, haven't read it) and vision. I don't think there is another work in all of classical music in which I am so immersed in the present musical surround yet equally, eagerly, anticipate the next scene.  Maybe LvB's Pastoral. 
I like Conor71's "I  like old Music" signature.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works
« Reply #24 on: September 04, 2016, 04:51:45 AM »
On the other hand, why need the piece embody the poem;  why should it not be enough that the piece draws inspiration from the poem?
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Offline Ghost Sonata

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Re: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works
« Reply #25 on: September 04, 2016, 05:04:16 AM »
On the other hand, why need the piece embody the poem;  why should it not be enough that the piece draws inspiration from the poem?

I'm there and in fact I would bet Hector would say precisely that.  It's just that in some circles (...or are they squares...?)
I like Conor71's "I  like old Music" signature.

Offline Jo498

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Re: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works
« Reply #26 on: September 04, 2016, 07:02:34 AM »
I never read the Harold poem and mainly know about it via the Berlioz piece. I simply think that the music is not all that great, except for the first movement and even there I like the introduction and the "Harold theme" (the one already figuring in Rob Roy) best. The two next movements are nice and picturesque but not much more and the finale never manages to "take off" and what is supposed to be threatening and dramatic is not working for me.

Whereas the "Love scene" has often been hailed as Berlioz's best instrumental piece and I also find the Capulet ball, the mab scherzo and "Romeo seul"(?) all brilliant pieces, as good as the "corresponding" ones from the Fantastique and more convincing than Harold mvts. 2-4.
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Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works
« Reply #27 on: September 04, 2016, 08:10:32 AM »
Well, of course there is nothing arguable about preferring the Op.17 to the Op.16.
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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works
« Reply #28 on: September 04, 2016, 08:08:07 PM »
R&J is definitely a unique listening experience. In all these years it's never come across to me as "problematic" but it's understandable someone might view it that way. It's quite a departure from its surroundings but it has such an organic feel that when listening I just go with the flow.

I hate to be a second-guesser but the work might have benefitted from a touch of editing in some of the prolonged slow passages, but in saying that I wouldn't begin to know if it might've actually helped anything. Obviously the content of a work relies on the steady hand of the writer so a genius like Berlioz most likely knows better than I. :)


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

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works
« Reply #29 on: September 05, 2016, 04:27:06 AM »
...I think I can only name 3 real favorites; I have heard "Le Troyens" maybe once and also some vague acquaintance with the choral works (Requiem and Te Deum) but I never really got into any of them and they are not really favorites. I have a soft spot for "Harold" but I think it is a flawed piece and the ouvertures are fun but nothing I could not do without.

Likewise, I thought about it and to be perfectly honest, my favorites are 3 as well:
Symphonie Fantastique
Harold en Italie
les nuits d'été
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Re: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works
« Reply #30 on: September 05, 2016, 11:13:33 AM »
Not a very original list, I'm afraid:

- Les Troyens
- Les nuits d'été
- Harold en Italie
- L'Enfance du Christ
- La Damnation de Faust
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works
« Reply #31 on: September 05, 2016, 11:18:25 AM »
Symphonie fantastique
Les nuits d´été
Harold en Italie*
Les francs-juges, ouverture
L´enfance du Christ

*an unimpeachable Romantic masterpiece

« Last Edit: September 05, 2016, 11:20:29 AM by Florestan »
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Offline Wanderer

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Re: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works
« Reply #32 on: September 05, 2016, 09:35:02 PM »
R&J. In all these years it's never come across to me as "problematic".

Same here.


Offline Jaakko Keskinen

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Re: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works
« Reply #33 on: November 04, 2016, 11:36:38 AM »
Okay, it's about time I add my favorites.

Benvenuto Cellini
La Damnation de Faust
Harold en Italie
Symphonie fantastique
Roméo et Juliette
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Re: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works
« Reply #34 on: November 04, 2016, 12:46:06 PM »
Easy for me (not being really a Berlioz fan, BTW) ...

- Harold in Italy
- Requiem
- Romeo & Juliette
- Nuits d´Ete
- Symphonie Fantastique

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works
« Reply #35 on: July 28, 2021, 12:04:12 PM »
Let me give this a go...

(In no particular order)

Les Troyens
Les nuits d'été, Op. 7
L’Enfance du Christ, Op. 25
Roméo et Juliette
Grande Messe des morts, Op. 5
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works
« Reply #36 on: July 28, 2021, 01:40:35 PM »
A little surprised to see that I have not listed my own five:

La damnation de Faust
Symphonie funèbre et triomphale
L'enfance du Christ
Grande Messe des morts
Roméo et Juliette
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
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http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Biffo

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Re: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works
« Reply #37 on: July 29, 2021, 12:50:25 AM »
Here is my list though I have more than 5 favourites

Les Troyens
Symphonie fantastique
La damnation de Faust
Grande Messe des morts
Roméo et Juliette

Offline André

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Re: Your Top 5 Favourite Berlioz Works
« Reply #38 on: July 29, 2021, 07:26:13 AM »
Te Deum
L’Enfance du Christ
Symphonie fantastique
Ouverture Le Corsaire
Requiem