Rolando Villazón’s Roméo wins Juliette’s heart, with impassioned, refined singing of an emotionally and vocally demanding role. Directed by Bartlett Sher, who telegenically captures the fantastic natural scenery of the famous Felsenreitschule, this first ever production of Gounod ‘s Roméo at the Salzburg Festival benefits from Québecois conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s innate understanding. Only 25 and film star beautiful, soprano Nino Machaidze embodies Juliette with unforced girlish charm, gorgeous tone and emotional heat.
Juliette Hurel's 2013 album on Naïve explores pieces for flute and piano by Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert, evoking the period between Classicism and early Romanticism. Perhaps the subtlest work of the program is Beethoven's Flute Sonata in B flat major, WoO A4, written in 1790 and fashioned under the influence of Haydn. Its sunny disposition and light textures are periodically interrupted by unexpected key changes and sudden digressions into the minor, characteristics that anticipate Beethoven's later development and mark it as a transitional work. His Serenade for flute and piano, Op. 41, is an arrangement of the Serenade for flute, violin, and viola, Op. 25, and it has a similar, if sometimes deceptive, air of Classical simplicity, which is all the more apparent because of the brevity of the movements. Only Schubert's Variations on a Theme from Die schöne Müllerin is unequivocally Romantic, and its sudden changes of mood and key make it the most fascinating piece on the disc.
Immensely influential, the remarkable Symphonie fantastique was composed while Hector Berlioz was suffering an intense and unreciprocated passion for the Irish actress Harriet Smithson. Its autobiographical tale describes a young musician's opium-poisoned nightmares of jealous despair and fatal justice following the murder of his beloved. Berlioz wrote a second movement cornet solo into a subsequent revision of the score, here included as an optional extra. He wed his sweetheart actress but, recuperating in Nice, wrote Le corsaire after the final breakup of their marriage. Internationally renowned conductor Leonard Slatkin began his tenure as Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in the 2008-2009 season. He was recently named Music Director of the Orchestre National de Lyon, beginning with the 2011-2012 season. He completed his twelfth and final season as Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra in June 2008, and finished his three-year commitment as Music Advisor to the Nashville Symphony Orchestra in June 2009. Slatkin continues as Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.