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Robin Ticciati - Scottish Chamber Orchestra - Berlioz: Les nuits d'ete - Sinfini Music


10 May 2013
Sinfini Music
Malcolm Hayes
4 Stars

The orchestral song-cycle seems to have been Hector Berlioz's invention. His Les nuits d'été (Summer Nights) for voice and piano was published in 1841; but Berlioz's decision, 15 years later, to orchestrate this group of songs - settings of six soulfully Romantic poems by Théophile Gautier - was a new departure.

Their world of yearning emotion is conjured up with astonishingly few notes, and is wonderfully intensified by Berlioz's flair for atmospheric orchestral colour: the whole of 19th-century Romanticism seems to be here, from the poised charm of the opening 'Villanelle' to the strange and haunted emotional territory explored in the fifth song, 'Au cimetière' (At the cemetery).

Karen Cargill's dark-hued voice especially suits the exotic despair of 'Sur les lagunes' (On the Lagoons)... [it] is seriously gorgeous in the quieter passages, and the technical command and hyper-accurate tuning are bombproof. Cargill also makes an impressive case for the much younger Berlioz's dramatic cantata La mort de Cléopâtre (Cleopatra's Death)...

Conducting the classy Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Robin Ticciati opts for non-vibrato, period-style string-playing...you'll savour the emotion surging through the orchestra's performance of the Love Scene from the dramatic symphony Romeo and Juliet.


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Scottish Chamber OrchestraScottish Chamber Orchestra
Berlioz: Les nuits d'eteBerlioz: Les nuits d'ete