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Friday concerts: French Passion

In the season’s last Friday concert, which has a French theme, we meet a young man in search of the meaning of life and a woman whose life has lost its meaning. They emerge in two famous works by the composers Hector Berlioz and Francis Poulenc. 


Harold en Italie (Harold in Italy) is a four-movement symphony by Hector Berlioz (1803–1869). The viola solo was originally written for the legendary violinist Niccolò Paganini (he never played it, however). The work is based on Lord Byron’s poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage.

Each movement refers to a scene in the plot, where the young Harold travels Europe in search of pleasure, love and peace of mind.


La Voix Humaine (The Human Voice) is a one-act opera by Francis Poulenc (1899–1963) based on the eponymous play by the poet Jean Cocteau.

Cocteau was interested in the phenomenon of “impersonal communication”, talking to someone without having human contact. His play is a monologue in which a woman is saying goodbye to her lover over the telephone, with constant interruptions. A theme that is more relevant than ever today!

In Poulenc’s interpretation, the phone call is sung and he tried to make the song resemble speech as much as possible, while the orchestra reflects emotions and moods, dynamics and drama. 


Fransic Poulenc (1899—1963) 
La voix humaine 
opera in one act (1958)

Hector Berlioz (1803—1869)
Harold en Italie 
op 16 (1834) 

on stage

SOLIST Nicholas Shardlow, viola
CONDUCTOR Maxime Pascal