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Berlioz - Romeo et Juliette / Hanna Schwarz, Philip Langridge, Peter Meven, Colin Davis, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (2006)

Bavarian Opera  |  NR |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Berlioz - Romeo et Juliette / Hanna Schwarz, Philip Langridge, Peter Meven, Colin Davis, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra + Hector Berlioz: La Damnation de Faust
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Product Details

  • Actors: Bavarian Opera
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: French, Spanish
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Alliance
  • DVD Release Date: March 21, 2006
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000E5LHLM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #289,821 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

From the Kulturzentrum Gasteig, Munich, featuring the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Colin Davis. Also featuring the Bavarian Radio Symphony Chorus with Chorus Master Hans-Peter Rauscher. Hanna Schwarz sings alto, Philip Langridge sing

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Sir Colin Davis has recorded the Berlioz 'Romeo et Juliette' several times on CD, most particularly with the London Symphony and with the Vienna Philharmonic. Interestingly, the chorus on the VPO recording is the same one used here, that of the Bavarian Radio Symphony. Those recordings, wonderful as they are, would be in some minds superseded by this DVD of a performance by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, along with soloists mezzo Hanna Schwarz, tenor Philip Langridge, and bass Peter Meven -- superseded because some have come to prefer seeing as well as hearing a concert. Certainly one's attention is engaged more strongly with the visual element. I suppose that is one reason opera DVDs have become so very popular in the last few years. As far as I know, this is the only 'Romeo et Juliette' available on DVD. And considering that the performance, the sound and the video are all superb, it's hard to imagine another one coming along any time soon. (The last time I made such a prediction, there was a new version of a fairly rare work within a couple of months!)

'Romeo et Juliette,' even though we've had more than 150 years to absorb it, continues to amaze and confound. The first question in some minds is 'what is it?'. Berlioz called it a 'symphonie dramatique,' and indeed it has some elements of the classical symphony. But, modeled as it was on Beethoven's Ninth, it has chorus and solo singers. They are not confined to the final movement as in the Beethoven but are sprinkled throughout the work, even in the first movement. Further, there is a dramatic story involved, so that one could imagine this is really a dramatic oratorio or cantata. Whatever it is, there are some peculiarities.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Berlioz's Romeo et Juliette June 5, 2006
By T. C.
Berlioz's dramatic symphony Romeo et Juliette is regarded by many as one of his finest and most original works. This piece was admired by many, like Richard Wagner, Who sent a copy of his opera Tristan und Isolde to Berlioz with a dedication: "respectfully, to the composer of Romeo and Juliet". It is easy to understand Wagner's admiration for the symphony, especially for the wonderful adagio, the love scene, that has much in common, in the profoundness and broadness of expression with Wagner's music.

Arthaus released a few months ago, a DVD with an outstanding performance of this symphony. This performance was recorded live at the Kulturzentrum Gasteig in Munich (1985). Sir Colin Davis conducts the Bavarian Radio Orchestra and Chorus. Davis is undoubtedly one of the greatest Berlioz conductors of the last fifty years. While watching him conduct, his absolute acquaintance with the score is clearly evident. Nothing escapes him and every little detail of the work is shaped with much care and love. The orchestral and choral execution is beyond reproach.

The highlights of the performance are: the mezzo wonderful strophes `Heureux enfants aux coeurs de flamme' to an accompaniment of a harp and later with a beautiful counter melody in the cellos. It is sung here with much expression and sensitivity by the German mezzo Hanna Schwarz. The very short vocal scherzo `Bientôt de Roméo la pâle rêverie' is done idiomatically by tenor Philip Langridge and the chorus.

Then the four orchestral movements that follows: `Romeo alone' - a beautiful reflective adagio that begins with a chromatic melody that reminds us the beginning of the orchestral interlude `Royal Hunt and Storm' from Les Troyens and gives a strong feeling of loneliness and anticipation.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clarifying the Date November 29, 2008
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This recording captures the climactic moment of Colin Davis' tenure as director of the Bayerischen Rundfunks Symphonieorchester (from 1979 onwards), when the orchestra took residence in their new home. This performance of Berlioz' ROMÉO ET JULIETTE took place officially to inaugurate the Philharmonie Münchem am Gasteig on the 22nd of November in 1985. Americans had a chance to see it first as a PBS Great Performances telecast on the 1st of November in 1988, and then it became available as a Pioneer Artists laserdisc in 1992.
There was another laserdisc on the London label with Solti conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in just the orchestral movements of this work (53 minutes) in 1977. Neither sound nor picture could match the Munich recording.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grand, Ungainly, Glorious Music July 14, 2010
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Dramatic symphony? Ballet without dancers? Hector Berlioz's "Romeo et Juliette" is effectively a genre in itself, and a bold experiment in musical structure, especially considered that it was premiered in 1839. At 100 minutes, it's almost twice the length of Beethoven's Choral (9th) Symphony, which was surely the musical 'model' for Berlioz's conception. On the other hand, the French productions of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" that Berlioz could have seen were all abridged and simplified, and the earlier opera based on the play - Bellini's 'I Capuletti ed i Montechhi' - was ridiculed by Berlioz as "vulgar, ridiculous, weak, and empty." To my ears, however, Berlioz's grandiose symphonic expression has very little to do with Shakespeare's ambiguous tragicomedy. It isn't a depiction of the action of the play, but rather a set of commentaries or observations on the narrative situation, sung by three soloists and a chorus. Only the third soloist, the basso, clearly represents a party to the action in Verona, identifying himself as the priest who married the already dead young lovers. The emotional 'narrative' belongs entirely to the orchestra.

One can make a case that "Romeo et Juliette" really does adhere to the four-movement structure of the classical symphony, and then expands that structure with a fifth movement. Most listeners, at home or in a concert hall, will probably scoff at such formalism; there are clearly fourteen segments, with full-stop cadences, some of which include the voices and some of which are purely orchestral. It's a difficult work to unify in interpretation, in other words, and one in which the parts are always clearer and more affective than the whole.
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