Hector Berlioz's 'Great Requiem' is a particularly fitting work for 4 May, which is Remembrance Day in the Netherlands. Berlioz composed his Grande messe des morts at the request of a French government minister to commemorate the soldiers who died in the July Revolution in 1830. The Requiem would become one of Berlioz's most popular works, among other things because of its imaginative instrumentation and gigantic orchestration, including four brass ensembles distributed throughout the hall. The work was also dear to the composer's own heart. He once said, 'If someone were to threaten to destroy all my works, I would beg for mercy on behalf of my Grande messe des morts.'
Seeing as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra has not performed Berlioz's 'Great Requiem' since 1989, a reacquaintance with the work is long overdue! This awe-inspiring work is in good hands with conductor Antonio Pappano, whose refinement, energy and drama, usually put to good use in the opera house, are exactly what the performance of this French mammoth calls for. Once again, the Netherlands Radio Choir is supporting the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the solo tenor is the Mexican singer Javier Camarena, who will be making his first appearance with the RCO.