Hector Berlioz’ song cycle, Les nuits d’été, Op. 7 (“Summer Nights”), based on the poetry of Théophile Gautier, dramatizes the progression of love from youthful innocence, to death, to ultimate rebirth. Villanelle, the first of the six songs, evokes the arrival of spring and the joyful exuberance of young love. The text celebrates the abundance of nature, from flowers and berries to the wildlife of the forest.
Berlioz’ song, composed on March 23, 1840, teems with this fresh, carefree energy. The melody is filled with surprising harmonic twists and turns. Listen to the way the instrumental voices of the orchestra spring to life and converse with the vocal line in continuous, weaving counterpoint.
In January, we explored a new release featuring English tenor Ian Bostridge with Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony. This is another excerpt from that recording: