Romeo and Juliet
composed by Hector Berlioz, conducted by Valery Gergiev
The London Symphony Orchestra present Hector Berlioz's ground-breaking take on Shakespeare’s bittersweet tragedy.
Shakespeare proved to be one of the enduring influences on Berlioz throughout his life. The composer described his first encounter with one of Shakespeare’s works (Hamlet, featuring Berlioz’s future wife Harriet Smithson) as a ‘thunderbolt’ that changed his life – and musical imagination – forever. In Romeo and Juliet, Berlioz delivers his own ground-breaking take on Shakespeare’s bittersweet tragedy, combining the playwright’s influence with all the musical drama of Beethoven’s symphonies, and adding solo voices and chorus into the mix.
The London Symphony Orchestra filmed this concert as part of a series of performances exploring the music of Berlioz, under the baton of Valery Gergiev, a major series that has taken in eight concerts at the Barbican and a tour to venues in the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria and France.
The LSO played with its customary virtuosity, the London Symphony Chorus made an impressively deep-toned sound, and it was a delight to hear the fresh young voices of the 12 students from the Guildhall School of Music who comprised the semi-chorus.
Orchestral details shone through with pinpoint clarity; harps, triangle and clarinet all had their moment in the spotlight, the strings were refined and the choir (notably the Guildhall School Chorus) radiant.
Gergiev’s reading was truly operatic. ... I left in little doubt that Gergiev and his orchestra are as fine a team of representatives as Berlioz could want.
Seen and Heard
Captured live at the Barbican, London, in November 2013 and presented as part of the London Symphony Orchestra Collection.
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