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Berlioz: Overtures / Andrew Davis, Bergen Philharmonic

Berlioz / Davis / Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Release Date: 02/26/2013 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 5118   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mixed 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

“ ... [Davis] on fine form here with the Bergen Philharmonic. The opening to the Corsaire holds no terrors for them ... The lesser-known overtures reveal their virtues well. Davis, abetted by an excellent recording, responds vividly to Berlioz’s pioneering orchestral textures...” - John Warrack – International Record Review – February 2013


The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Andrew Davis here perform seven dazzling orchestral overtures by Hector Berlioz, a composer who excelled in blending literary and musical elements into highly energetic and personal creations.

The overtures are widely varied in mood, as are the operas from which they were drawn. Berlioz wrote his first large-scale
Read more instrumental composition, the Overture to Les Francs-juges, in 1826, the year in which he enrolled at the Paris Conservatoire. Even though the opera itself was never performed, Berlioz remained proudly affectionate of the overture, which was played all over Germany and Holland in its early days. His second opera, Benvenuto Cellini, followed in 1838; its music gave rise both to the opera’s overture and to the concert overture Le Carnaval romain which depicts its subject in brilliant colour through breathtakingly vibrant orchestration.

The comic opera Béatrice et Bénédict took its inspiration from Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing. The overture draws on an intense solo scene for Béatrice and adds elements of the cheerful banter that make up the story of the title characters’ playful courtship.

When Berlioz visited the Hungarian capital Pest in 1846, it was suggested to him that one way of winning the hearts of the audiences there would be to make an arrangement of the beloved Rákóczy March, which up until that point had been known only as a piano piece. Berlioz agreed, and on the very night before he left for Pest, he put together his own orchestral version of the piece. It was a resounding success when performed at his first concert, to the extent that Berlioz promptly included it in the large work on which he was working at the time: La Damnation de Faust.

Le Roi Lear, Le Corsaire, and Waverley have one thing in common: all are independent concert pieces that have been given the title overture as in many respects they do resemble opera overtures – but none is in actual fact connected to an opera. The composer here took his inspiration from literary works. Le Roi Lear, for instance, is a remarkable tone portrait of Shakespeare’s deranged king, full of energy and anger, while Le Corsaire may be loosely based on Byron’s The Corsair. Berlioz based Waverley on a novel of the same name by Sir Walter Scott, and the score bears a quotation in English: ‘Dreams of love and Lady’s charms, give place to honour and to arms.’ The contrast expressed so well in this simple quotation is equally evident in the music itself. Here the ‘dreams of love’ unfold in a long cello melody, which is repeated with richer orchestrations, before leading into the vigorous musical depiction of ‘honour and arms’. - Chandos Read less

Works on This Recording

Le corsaire Overture, Op. 21 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; France 
Venue:  Grieghallen, Bergen, Norway 
Length: 8 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Béatrice et Bénédict: Overture by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1860-1862; France 
Venue:  Grieghallen, Bergen, Norway 
Length: 8 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Les francs-juges, Op. 3: Overture by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1826; France 
Venue:  Grieghallen, Bergen, Norway 
Length: 11 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Le carnaval romain Overture, Op. 9 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1843-1844; France 
Venue:  Grieghallen, Bergen, Norway 
Length: 8 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Waverley Overture, Op. 1 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; France 
Venue:  Grieghallen, Bergen, Norway 
Length: 10 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Le roi Lear Overture, Op. 4 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831; France 
Venue:  Grieghallen, Bergen, Norway 
Length: 15 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Benvenuto Cellini: Overture, Op 23 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1834-1837; France 
Venue:  Grieghallen, Bergen, Norway 
Length: 10 Minutes 36 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Le corsaire, Op. 21
Beatrice and Benedict: Overture
Les francs-juges: Overture
Le carnaval romain, Op. 9
Waverley, Op. 1
Le roi Lear Overture, Op. 4
Benvenuto Cellini, Op. 23: Overture

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