<< -- 2 -- Robert Anderson MARSHALLING THE OPHICLEIDES
Bernard Shaw, writing fifty years later, commented on the 'extreme contrasts of
crash and whisper', convinced that young men in possession of the emotions Berlioz
seeks to represent 'are unmitigated nuisances to themselves and their acquaintances'.
Harriet Smithson, the future wife and, in Berlioz's imagination, with good feeling for
the waltz, drags him next to the ballroom, where disconsolate he watches the jollification
of others less afflicted and rather enjoying themselves
[listen -- track 2, 0:40-1:43].
Shaw was at pains to point out that the 'March to the Scaffold' of the fourth
movement was leading to a head-chop at the guillotine rather than to the gallows
and its noose, as an English programme-note had just wrongly informed him. Berlioz's
orchestra makes the point with perfect clarity. Schumann was dramatically reminded that
Berlioz had passed early days as a medical student and wondered with what unwillingness
he had 'dissected the head of a handsome murderer'. Schumann thought he felt much the
same in his self-appointed task of analysis. The Boston SO and Munch need experience
only exhilaration and relish as they march steadily on with their impeccable sense of rhythm
[listen -- track 4, 1:32-2:37].
Copyright © 18 February 2004
Robert Anderson, London UK