BBC Music Magazine : 2019-04-17

Letters : 7 : 9


Maltese stage I am happy to say that Valletta’s Royal Opera ★ouse (Timepiece, April) is now an open-air venue with seats and a stage and sound and lights. It still lacks a roof and some walls, but they are of less importance on Malta than here in the UK. Ian Brothwell, Nottingham The best of Berlioz In response to your request for our favourite works by Berlioz (March and online), my list is long. It begins with Roméo et Juliette, thanks to conductor Colin Davis, whose first recording of Les Troyens also has many wonderful features, including Canadian tenor Jon Vickers. Neglected works, meanwhile, include the Symphonie funêbre et trionfale and Lélio. I have long regretted that Berlioz seems to have been pegged as a one-piece composer – the Symphonie fantastiqu­e is overplayed. Lawrence Jones, Manitoba, Canada Berlioz’s Les Troyens is an absolute masterpiec­e. I had the pleasure of singing in the chorus for performanc­es conducted by Serge Baudo in Lyons in 1987. Singing the part of Dido was soprano Kathryn ★arries, who was superb and managed to sing her final lament with tears running down her face – genuine ones, she has since assured me. I’ve always found ★ector’s funeral music particular­ly moving. ★ere, Berlioz reduces the scale of the music so that it seems more like the most intimate chamber music. Andy Hoskins via email My favourite Berlioz work is the astounding Te Deum. I first heard it with the Fort Wayne Philharmon­ic at its home in the Embassy Theatre. When the opening chord was played by the orchestra, I leaned forward in my balcony seat stunned at the strength of the orchestra’s sound. After the silent pause, the organist let the venue’s Page organ loose with everything it had for its chord and this threw me back in my seat again. I’d never heard anything so powerful – and still haven’t in all those 40 years that have passed since. Steve Smith, Indiana, US The sight of Berlioz on the March cover took me back 50 years when Northweste­rn University celebrated the centenary of his death by performing the Requiem. I suspect every choir in the Chicago area was recruited to make a chorus of 700. They sat on bleachers in the fieldhouse, and in each corner was a brass choir of a dozen players each. In front was the orchestra of 200 players, including 16 timpani, ten pairs of cymbals, and four tam-tams for the Dies Irae. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, not to be forgotten! Hugh Spencer, Illinois, US The editor replies: Many thanks for sending us so many wonderful responses to our request for favourite Berlioz works – we will publish more of them on our website ( I’ll get my goat Why do so many musicians keep a menagerie (March issue)? Take Gerald Finley, for example. In Rewind (April) he talks about MY FINEST MOMENT, then discusses MY FONDEST MEMORY and then, quite inexplicab­ly, says I’D LIKE ANOT★ER GOAT…. David Turner, Nottingham Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear… The editor replies:

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