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Prom 39 - Berlioz's Requiem

1 hour, 45 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 11 August 2012

Live from the Royal Albert Hall, London

Presented by Sara Mohr-Pietsch

Thierry Fischer's conducts his final concert as Principal Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and scales the heights of Berlioz's monumental Requiem with massive choral and orchestral forces in the vast acoustic of the Royal Albert Hall.

When Berlioz wrote his massive Requiem or "Grande mess des morts" in 1837, it took him just 3 months to write. Composing for truly overwhelming forces and first performed in the imposing church of Les Invalides in Paris, it was the dramatic possibilities of the text that excited the composer, who even reordered some of the text so as to maximize the impact. Ever the Romantic, Berlioz brings his ideals of freedom and expressive truth to his setting, alongside the deafening forces including four brass bands.

The music of Berlioz has been the focus of Thierry's six years at the helm of the orchestra. It's not just that he likes the composer, but he feels as an artist a real need to perform his music on a regular basis. Over the years they've performed the Symphonie fantastique at the Proms as well as the revolutionary Symphonie funebre et triomphale. Here at the Proms, Thierry Fischer strives to respect Berlioz's wishes in staging the work. Instead of placing the brass bands at far flung corners of the Royal Albert Hall, the force of fifty players sit around the main body of the orchestra, on stage instead of offstage, focussing the dramatic sound.

Berlioz: Requiem (Grande messe des morts)

Toby Spence (tenor)
BBC National Chorus of Wales
Huddersfield Choral Society
London Symphony Chorus
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Thierry Fischer (conductor)

This Prom will be repeated on Wednesday 15 August at 2.00pm.



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