Music / New York Arts / The Berkshire Review in Boston

Berlioz, Les Troyens, a Concert Performance and a Symposium

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Dido Observes the Departure of the Trojan Ships, from the Vatican Vergil, III-IV Century A.D.
Dido Observes the Departure of the Trojan Ships, from the Vatican Vergil, III-IV Century A.D.

Les Troyens is so widely accepted as Berlioz’s greatest work, that the progress of the Berlioz Renaissance is punctuated by performances of it in the opera house and in concert, beginning, arguably, with Sir Thomas Beecham’s moderately abridged 1947 BBC broadcast. Now Boston music-lovers may consider the Berlioz Renaissance to be something of a noble fiction, since his music has had its own secure place in the Boston Symphony repertoire for many years, maturing with Charles Munch’s arrival in 1949. During his tenure he and the BSO performed and recorded several of Berlioz’s most important works, and the recordings are still considered among the best. Later, Seiji Ozawa continued the tradition rather capably, and Berlioz has been one of James Levine’s great enthusiasms since early in his career. Expertise in Berlioz seems to be a prerequisite for the job. Yet, this is the first complete performance of Les Troyens by the foremost Berlioz orchestra in America, which in the past has only played brief excerpts, above all the “Royal Hunt and Storm” from Act IV. Hence these concert performances of Parts I and II on following weeks, culminating in a complete performance on Sunday May 4, are in fact landmarks. To read the rest of the review, click here.


1 thought on “Berlioz, Les Troyens, a Concert Performance and a Symposium

  1. How gratifying to have this first-hand report of a major performance of this rarely performed work! I was distressed when I read a newspaper article that contained a photo showing that the vocal soloists were placed behind the orchestra, with the chorus behind them–as if squeezed between two large sound-masses. But I’m pleased to learn that, somehow, it worked–not least by keeping the soloists in close eye-contact with the conductor, as they would be in a staged performance.
    Many of the descriptive phrases in this review helped me “hear” what went on at Symphony Hall on this occasion. I particularly enjoyed the appreciation of Yvonne Naef’s and Dwayne Croft’s solid vocalism and artistry. Naef “offered a polished critique of recorded interpretations of the past”–what a wonderful thought, that a singer may have studied the best (and worst?) of previous interpretations in order to come up with a considered new synthesis. (Renee Fleming has explained that she does this kind of sonic research, and the results are of course often detailed and persuasive–and particularly apt for what she can do best.)
    I always look forward to reading what the Berkshire Review has to say about important performances in the New York/New England area (and occasionally in London and Australia).

Comments are closed.

WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By :