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NOSPR / Lionel Bringuier / Layla Claire - NOSPR

NOSPR / Lionel Bringuier / Layla Claire

Conductor
Lionel Bringuier
Performers
Layla Claire – soprano
Program
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Concert overture The Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave), Op. 26
Hector Berlioz
Summer Nights. A cycle of songs for soprano and orchestra to verse by Théophile Gautier, Op. 7
Georges Bizet
Symphony No. 1 in C major

An aspect always present in works composed in the Romantic period is a propensity for classicism, either more or less hidden. In the case of Mendelssohn, a „classicising Romantic”, it is obvious when one takes into account his liking for classical forms and their flawless architecture. In the wonderful overture The Hebrides (1830, revised 1832), however, a classical form is filled with a new, romantic, „content”. The music leads us to hear echoes of inspiration drawn from a journey to the myth-filled Fingal’s Cave - the extraordinary scenery, the sound of the sea, the cries of the seabirds, and the waves crashing against the cliffs. Berlioz, a “true” Romantic, is a case quite unlike that. Here, the verse by Théophile Gautier, deemed a precursor of classicising Parnassianism, had a „moderating” influence on the sound of the Les nuits d’été, (1838–1856) songs cycle. A classical order of the form, a rejection of theatricality, an in-depth and internally focused expression, a clarity of harmonic thought, a sophisticated palette of timbre – this is a Berlioz entirely different from the one we know from his monumental vocal-instrumental works. Georges Bizet will always be associated with the immortal Carmen, which Nietzsche called „an antidote to the poison of Wagner’s operas”. Ergo, a „classical” cure for „a Romanticism in excess”? The subliminal classicality of Carmen – and its roots – are easier to understand when one listens closely to  Bizet’s Symphony No. 1 in C major (1855). It was only too strong a similarity to Gounod’s Symphony that made Bizet hide his work from the world. However, after the first performance, as late as in 1935, it was immediately called a masterpiece – and compared to… Mendelssohn!

Stanisław Kosz

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