The Hector Berlioz Website



This page presents reviews of the performances that took place in 2010. We would like to express our gratitude to the authors for their invaluable contributions.

Copyright notice: The reviews published on this page are the intellectual property of the respective contributors and are subject to UK and International Copyright Laws. Their use/reproduction without the authors’ explicit permission is illegal. 

Reviews in English

Reviews in French

L’Enfance du Christ in Scotland 
Symphonie fantastique 
Des Troyens emberlificotés
Enfance de l’art  
Festival Berlioz 2010 : quelques impressions  
Nouveau Festival Berlioz, An II  
Much Ado About Béatrice et Bénédict
Les Troyens
à l’étouffée

Il y a toujours beaucoup d’oiseaux dans nos jardins publics
Béatrice et Alberto
La Damnation de Faust (ou presque) à Nantes


Symphonie fantastique

By Kevin O’Neill

National Concert Hall, Dublin, 28 May 2010
National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
conductor: Alan Buribayev

[I am listening to La Damnation de Faust as I am composing this review. Something to lift my spirits! :)]

I had not been out to a concert for quite a while so when I decided, after looking up the National Concert Hall web site ( and seeing that the Symphonie fantastique was on the programme of music to be performed, I thought I am definitely going to see it. I had no idea of the surprise that awaited me!

To date I have attended one performance of the Symphonie fantastique, with the Ulster Orchestra, and that was five years ago so I had forgotten what it was like to see it performed LIVE. 

There were two other magical works performed that evening, Mozart: Overture to Die Zauberflöte [The Magic Flute] and Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.5 in E-Flat Major Op.73, “Emperor” (soloist: François-Frédéric Guy). The first two works were performed in the first half so they saved the heavy work to the last, almost like building up their energy levels!

I was sitting in the centre of the Choir section of the NCH so I had a superb view of the conductor and the whole orchestra directly in front of me.

There were similarities with the previous performance of 5 years ago; however there were some things that differed with this performance of the Symphonie fantastique. It had much more energy and excitement about it! Later on I was to remember leaving the NCH feeling the NSOI had moved up a gear!

I do not intend to repeat myself from the previous review of the Symphonie fantastique but some things stood out for me in this performance.

I Rêveries et Passions, II Un bal, IV Marche au supplice and V Songe d’une nuit de sabbat :

Each of these movements seemed to be directed in such a way that had some kind of accelerated energy and vitality going through the veins of the NSOI. They played them in a sort of accelerando, staccato, crescendo and sudden diminuendo with amazing consistency and joie de vivre! I was feeling so glad I had decided to go to see a performance of the Symphonie fantastique as I had definitely forgotten how good a work is is, especially LIVE!

III Scène aux champs :

The Cor Anglais in the Orchestra and the Oboe in the Balcony behind the conductor conveyed the feeling of distance and sound travel. Alan Buribayev signalled to the Cor Anglais and then turned his back to the Oboe. It was almost as if the performance of this movement was bringing the music out to the audience. It certainly caught my eyes and drew me in! To me it was the only real movement where the NSOI were calm and restrained in their playing and also given that it is the slow movement after all. What I mean is the NSOI could show the calm before the storm in comparison to the other two previous and two later movements.

Alan Buribayev conducted in such a way that took my breath away! He conducted the whole Symhonie fantastique with such passion, energy, might and control. I can remember feeling ‘My goodness, this conductor is incredible. I have never seen anything like this!’ It was almost as if Alan Buribayev was THE idée fixe character transferring as an intermediary, some kind of very powerful tour de force into the NCH! He was SO captivating in his direction!

Listening to this concert LIVE on RTE Lyric FM would not have been the same as being in the National Concert Hall. Being inside to listen to it and see it was incomparable and something else! Also, NEVER have I seen the entire audience rise SO quickly for the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland before. They were SO worthy of it and I am so glad to always support them alongside the Ulster Orchestra when I can. The performance on 28 May 2010 is one of the most memorable concerts I have ever gone to Chez moi en Irlande. Fantastique!

Alan Buribayev will be the new Principal Conductor in September 2010 and I have to write, what a way to conclude the concert season 2009/2010 for the NSOI. I think this will be a taste of what is to come – exciting, captivating concerts.

I could conclude the NSOI’s performance of the Symphonie fantastique in a few words. One could quote from La Damnation de Faust, Scène 3: “Et quel feu dans leurs yeux!” [And what fire in their eyes!]

Kevin O’Neill
8 August 2010

L’Enfance du Christ in Scotland

By Michel Austin

Usher Hall, Edinburgh (4 February 2010); City Halls, Glasgow (5 February 2010); Music Hall, Aberdeen (6 February 2010)
Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Chorus (chorus master: Gregory Batsleer)
Karen Cargill (Mary)
Yann Beuron (Narrator)
Ronan Collett (Polydorus, Joseph)
Matthew Rose (Herod, Ishmaelite Father)
conductor: Robin Ticciati

‘A collector’s item in the rough open sea of Berlioz’s output’ is how Robin Ticciati, the new Principal Conductor of the SCO, aptly describes L’Enfance du Christ. ‘It is a piece,’ he continues, ‘that draws you in with simple modal melodies and wandering fugatos. Apart from being a score very close to my heart, it is the SCO’s sensitivity to the classical style within the romantic repertoire that led me to programme this pastoral work for my opening season. From Herod’s Dream to the final Amen, the music is a personal offering to an old world.’

The performances in Edinburgh and Glasgow were everything one could have hoped for; the same was probably true of the final performance in Aberdeen, which I wish I had been able to attend. Modest in its instrumental and vocal requirements, L’Enfance du Christ is more frequently heard than Berlioz’s other choral works, and performances rarely disappoint. But this was something altogether special. The work emerged as though freshly minted, natural and direct in utterance, with finely graded dynamics and beautiful tone, and not the slightest hint of prettiness or sentimentality. Everything seemed just right: one could dwell at length on the individual merits of soloists, chorus or orchestra, but at the end the whole was more than the sum of its parts. Of the two performances I heard, that in Glasgow enjoyed the extra benefit of the intimate setting and acoustic of the City Halls, ideal for a work of this kind, and the performance had added poise as compared with Edinburgh (noticeably so in the chorus in Part III ‘Que de leurs pieds meurtris’ and the ensuing instrumental fugato). It is a pity that this performance was not recorded (the Edinburgh performance will be broadcast on Radio 3 on 5 March 2010 at 7.00 pm). At both performances the ending was quite magical: the final Amen chord was allowed to fade seamlessly into total silence, and mercifully the audience did not shatter the spell by breaking into premature applause.

The credit for these outstanding performances belongs rightfully to the conductor. His thoughtful and unobtrusive direction brought the best out of all the participants; the music was allowed to sing for itself at its own pace. Robin Ticciati is blessed with an abundance of natural talent that is rarely to be found, and his recent arrival on the musical scene is something to celebrate. Berlioz has found in him a new champion who is capable of following in the footsteps of the most distinguished of his predecessors.

Michel Austin

The Hector Berlioz Website was created by Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin on 18 July 1997; Reviews of live performances page created in 1999; completely reorganised on 25 December 2008..

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