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Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique and the BSO

As a brass and tuba player, it is hard to find composers that really know how to utilize your instrument in a dynamic way that sounds great and feels great to play. I present to you, Hector Berlioz (pictured right). French composer whose pieces Symphonie fantastique and Damnation of Faust are an absolute joy to play and hear performed.

Berlioz had a great knack for composing expressive bass lines and arranging for powerful brass instrumentation.

The fourth movement is a propulsive march with a progressively more turbulent, unstable feel due to abrupt changes between passages, juxtaposing extreme dynamics and opposing string and brass lines in its final minute. Its melodies are longer, more drawn out phrases than typically seen, but consistent with the big sweep-and-swell motif established from the start of the first movement and really giving the march a more epic feel. Whet your appetite with this performance of the fourth movement by Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic, recorded for Deutsch Grammophon.

Hector Berlioz – Symphonie Fantastique – IV. Marche au Supplice (March to the Scaffold)

Marin Alsop and the BSO tackle Symphonie Fantastique as well as Prokofiev’s first piano concerto, featuring 20-year-old rising star Yuja Wang (Wiki) on piano. Performances at the Meyerhoff April 25-27, opening April 24 at the Strathmore in Bethesda. Tickets start at a low $15. Highly recommended.