The Concertgebouworkest is performing Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, Stravinsky’s Firebird and Franck’s Le chasseur maudit – three stories told through the rich colour palette of a symphony orchestra, conducted by Tugan Sokhiev.
An unadulterated horror film without images.
The nobleman who wanted to hunt on Sunday had been duly warned: ‘Accursed hunter, be thou eternally pursued by Hell!’ pronounces a stern voice as he reaches the woods. César Franck’s Le chasseur maudit reveals itself to be a horror film without images. Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, composed fifty years earlier, served as the prototype of such a symphonic narrative. With this work, Berlioz single-handedly invented a new genre which has proved enormously popular for nearly 200 years.
Igor Stravinsky, too, was a master storyteller. As a young composer, Stravinsky propelled himself to the forefront of the music scene, where he would remain, with the evocative display of colours in his first ballet, The Firebird. No dancers or sets are needed to see how Prince Ivan, thanks to the Firebird’s feather, defeats an evil wizard – and, of course, wins the heart of the most beautiful princess.
Tugan Sokhiev is one of the best conductors you could hope for when it comes to this repertoire. Indeed, the strong evocative link between Russian and French music is in his blood: as chief conductor at the Bolshoy Theatre in Moscow and of the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, he has been shuttling between Russia and France for years.