Spain Hector Berlioz, Romeo et Juliette: Valencia Community Orchestra, Valencia Regional Government Chorus, Valery Gergiev (conductor), Teatro Real de Madrid, 11.12.2011 (JMI)
Soloists: Ekaterina Gubanova, Kenneth Tarver, Mikhail Petrenko.
The visits by Valery Gergiev to Spain can be considered frequent, since almost most every year we enjoy his presence. Usually he comes with St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Orchestra in tow, except for when he opened Valencia’s opera season with Berlioz’s Les Troyens last year (S&H review here), using the local forces. It seems that the experience was to his liking, since on this visit to Spain he conducts the Valencia orchestra and chorus again, offering two concerts in Valencia and two more at Teatro Real.
H.Berlioz, Les Troyens,
V.Gergiev / Valencian Orchestra & Chorus
La Fura dels Baus
Cmajor / Unitel DVD
Valery Gergiev seems to find great appeal in the figure of Hector Berlioz, with his—Berlioz’—music making very regular appearances in his programs. Apart from Les Troyens, he also devoted his 2010 visit to San Sebastián to Berlioz’s Romeo et Juliette (S&H review here).
Romeo et Juliette is neither opera nor oratorio, but rather a choral and vocal symphony, taking the orchestra on a tour of all the places of action in Verona. The exceptional, if not always warmly received work is very demanding on orchestra and chorus.
Valery Gergiev offered a heartfelt and excellent performance of this work, getting excellent results from Valencia’s Orchestra who showed once again their exceptional musical level—as did the splendid Choir. They left nothing to be desired, even in direct comparison to the Mariinsky forces’ San Sebastián performance! When Gergiev conducts without baton (or toothpick), there is a special rapport he establishes with his musicians which is, and certainly was on this occasion, immediately transmitted to the audience. The casting with Ekaterina Gubanova, Kenneth Tarver, and Mikhail Petrenko was luxurious, given the minor importance of their contributions.
José Mª. Irurzun