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Thread: Berlioz Requiem

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    Junior Member toughcritic's Avatar
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    Default Berlioz Requiem

    Tremendous work that I personally have never heard in concert, it is almost never presented. I think it is a relatively unknown piece even among professionals. I wonder why? It's depth and orchestral harmonies so beautifully festooned in the choral material that the effect is beguiling. Please listen and if any of you can recommend other recordings than the one below, I would love to compare.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9Gesn_TMTo

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    One reason why you probably haven't heard it live is because it requires a huge orchestra to play it. Berlioz, as you may or may not know, was a master of orchestration.

    His "Requiem" is a beautiful piece, but as I mentioned the orchestration is huge. I got the following information from Wikipedia:

    The Requiem is scored for a very large orchestra, four brass bands, and chorus placed throughout the hall:

    Woodwinds
    4 Flutes
    2 Oboes
    2 English horns
    4 Clarinets in B-flat
    8 Bassoons

    Brass
    12 Horns in C, E-flat
    4 Cornets in B-flat
    4 Tubas

    Percussion
    16 Timpani (10 players)
    2 Bass Drums
    10 pairs of Cymbals
    4 Tam-tams
    4 Brass Choirs

    Choir 1 to the North
    4 Cornets
    4 Trombones
    2 Tubas

    Choir 2 to the East
    4 Trumpets
    4 Trombones

    Choir 3 to the West
    4 Trumpets
    4 Trombones

    Choir 4 to the South
    4 Trumpets
    4 Trombones
    4 Ophicleides (usually substituted by Tubas)

    Voices
    Chorus:
    80 Sopranos
    60 Tenors
    70 Basses
    Tenor solo

    Strings
    25 Violin I
    25 Violin II
    20 Violas
    20 Violoncellos
    18 Double Basses


    I would check out Colin Davis' take on this on the Philips label with the London Symphony and also check out Charles Munch's take with the Boston Symphony Orch. Both are amazing interpretations and should be heard by everyone who's interested in Berlioz.
    Last edited by JTech82; Mar-30-2009 at 01:32.

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    Senior Member handlebar's Avatar
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    Also the Robert Shaw recording.

    Jim

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    One CD that you should try to listen to is the ‘World premiere recording’ made by John Eliot Gardiner with the Monteverdi Choir, Orchestre revolutionnaire et romantique. on “Period instruments”
    On 3rd Oct 1993 on Philips 442-137-2
    Very atmospheric, recorded in Westminster Cathedral, London. It is a must

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    Senior Member Bach's Avatar
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    Berlioz's requiem is overblown kitsch.
    Si vos agnosco is tunc vos es quoque erudio

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bach View Post
    Berlioz's requiem is overblown kitsch.
    Why?..........

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    Quote Originally Posted by toughcritic View Post
    Tremendous work that I personally have never heard in concert, it is almost never presented. I think it is a relatively unknown piece even among professionals. I wonder why? It's depth and orchestral harmonies so beautifully festooned in the
    I can't comment on the popularity of this work in concert but it would not be correct to suggest that it is relatively unknown even among professionals. This work - to give it the correct title "Grande Messe des morts" - is among the most highly regarded of Berlioz works, and certainly in his top 10. The version I have is by the Boston Symphony Orchestra/Charles Munch. There are many other versions. The fact that I have a copy doesn't necessarily mean that I like it greatly. I bought some time ago mainly for completeness, and have probably played it twice all the way through. I like music of this sort but I cannot say that this is my favourite Requiem. Nevertheless, orchestrally it is awesome in scale and magnificent in effects, and definitely worth adding to one's collection.

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    Senior Member handlebar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bach View Post
    Berlioz's requiem is overblown kitsch.
    Yes, I want to know why as well. Give us your thoughts.

    Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by handlebar View Post
    Yes, I want to know why as well. Give us your thoughts.

    Jim
    Knowing Bach, I doubt he will give his reasons for not liking it. You'd be lucky to receive any explanation.

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Yeah, Bach, God love him, likes to give bitchy one-liners in several threads about composers he doesn't like. "He is rubbish" and things of that ilk.

    That's OK, though. We would not want our Bach any other way!
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Senior Member David C Coleman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bach View Post
    Berlioz's requiem is overblown kitsch.
    Yes it is overblown, but its wonderful to hear what noise 600+ performers can make. I've seen this piece live once. (Colin Davies actually). Only time I saw more performers than audience(so it seemed). And that was in the Royal Albert Hall..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    Yeah, Bach, God love him, likes to give bitchy one-liners in several threads about composers he doesn't like. "He is rubbish" and things of that ilk.

    That's OK, though. We would not want our Bach any other way!
    I agree that people with skills like Bach's are a rarity and it would be unfair to tax his knowledge by asking for clarification of his musical dictums. Rather we should be grateful indeed that he graces us with his company now and then as we struggle to comprehend and fathom the major works bequeathed to us by composers past. If he says that Berlioz's Requiem is cr.p that's good enough for me, and it should be good enough for anyone else. Let us hope and pray that he hasn't been offended by any unfortunate remarks he may have seen above, and that it won't be long before he calls again to enlighten us mere mortals with further pearls of wisdom.

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    Senior Member JoeGreen's Avatar
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    Well Bach's kitsch is my ecstasy, if there is anything I love more than Brass instruments, it's brass instruments and stereophonic effects! (or in this case quadraphonic)

    But I would seriously love to here this live. Even if it's just for the Tuba Mirum portion.
    I adore art...when I am alone with my notes, my heart pounds and the tears stream from my eyes, and my emotion and my joys are too much to bear.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David C Coleman View Post
    Yes it is overblown, but its wonderful to hear what noise 600+ performers can make. I've seen this piece live once. (Colin Davies actually). Only time I saw more performers than audience(so it seemed). And that was in the Royal Albert Hall..
    Wow, I bet that was incredible. Sir Colin Davis' Berlioz is some of the finest I've heard. In my honest opinion, nobody comes close to his interpretations. I do feel, however, that Berlioz is open for interpretation like all composers, but I just connected instantly with Davis' readings. That doesn't happen very much, but in the hands of a good conductor like Davis he makes it sound so easy and effortless.

    I do enjoy Charles Munch's readings too, but they don't impact me quite the same way. They're good though no doubt about it. I have that 10-disc box set on RCA called "Munch Conducts Berlioz" and it's not bad at all.

  16. #15
    Andante
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bach View Post
    Berlioz's requiem is overblown kitsch.
    I know what you mean, it is a very theatrical piece of music not at all like the normal requiem but although different it is still good music.

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