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<<  -- 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].

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Copyright © 18 February 2004 Robert Anderson, London UK


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