May 5, 1997 |
Animation and contemplation are the poles around which the music of Hector Berlioz revolves, and nowhere is this more demonstrable than in the French composer's wondrous Requiem, the "Grand Messe des Morts," a work Berlioz envisioned performed by orchestral and choral forces of 1,000 people. The Pasadena Symphony revival, Saturday night in the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, utilized merely 260 musicians, according to the management; that was enough.
December 15, 1996 |
Hector Berlioz, that most eccentric and innovative of Romantic composers and today only an occasional presence in American concert halls, has been an uninterrupted part of the concert programming in Britain for much of this century.
January 22, 1995 |
Hector Berlioz is a composer better known by reputation than through his music, the tiniest handful of popular works excepted. In Britain, the native affection for musical pageantry in general and oversized choral works in particular has kept his brilliantly audacious music on the boards, with help from three of the most influential British conductors of the century, Sir Hamilton Harty, Sir Thomas Beecham, and since the latter's death in 1964, Sir Colin Davis.
October 6, 1993 |
For a long time, Berlioz's Requiem was one of the most famous least-heard works in the literature. Few performances were given because the demands of the piece are huge and fiendish: four brass choirs and sixteen kettledrums, in addition to a large orchestra and chorus. Not many organizations could afford it, and it wasn't until the era of long-playing recordings that the music could be heard with any regularity.
September 14, 1991 |
"Les Troyens" carries such a fearsome reputation for outsize extravagance, you might imagine it was the Opera That Ate Paris. It is just too big, too long, too expensive for practical performance, went the received wisdom. And not without reason. Hector Berlioz's epic runs the better part of five hours.
December 14, 1986 |
What's this? Christmas without a new, or newly reissued "Messiah"? In fact, the recording industry, in a rare fit of collective wisdom, would seem to have decided that enough is enough, that there are a sufficient number of "Messiahs" (Handel's, that is) to please every taste--for this year, at any rate.