Paris-Based Orchestra Les Siècles Celebrates French Romantic Composer Berlioz
Why We Recommend it
Les Siècles will perform the French composer’s passionate and inventive storytelling with 19th century period instruments, including literary-inspired masterpieces such as Symphonie Fantastique.
Organised in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Berlioz’s death, multi-award-winning French orchestra Les Siècles will perform two concerts of his most notable works under the baton of 33-year-old conductor Maxime Pascal. The orchestra is renowned for its outstanding young players and audacious programming, as well as its vast collection of period instruments spanning the baroque, classical, romantic and modern eras.
The first concert pairs the composer’s ground-breaking Symphonie Fantastique with Lélio, its rarely-performed ‘sequel’. The former symphony was Berlioz first major succes. It was inspired by his relationship with Irish Shakespearean actress Harriet Smithson, whom he obsessively pursued for seven years until she agreed to marry him seven years later. Their union started out happily but imploded a few years later. Lélio will feature an actor providing narration alongside a tenor, bass, chorus and full orchestra, as if illustrating a sensational tableau vivant.
The second concert includes literary-inspired overtures and symphonic works inspirations. Berlioz’s glittering imagination is illustrated in his overture to the opera Benvenuto Cellini and its portrayal of the eponymous Renaissance sculptor, while excerpts of Roméo et Juliette reflect the composer’s profound admiration for Shakespeare. In his second symphony, Harold en Italie, the virtuosic viola – originally written for Paganini – follows the central character’s varied experiences of Italian life as inspired by the poet Byron.
This event is organised as a part of the 47th Hong Kong Arts Festival.