Harold in Italy.


Hector Berlioz:

  • Harold In Italy.

Canadian violinist James Ehnes has a new recording out, featuring orchestral works by Berlioz, with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Andrew Davis.

This recording follows an amazing concert in November 2014 in which James Ehnes played two Stradivarius instruments: The viola solo part of “Harold en Italie” , and a Stradivarius violin for the solo in “Rêverie et Caprice”, both of which are featured here.

We hear the following pieces:


  • Harold en Italie, Op. 16, with James Ehnes (viola)
  • Reverie et Caprice, Op. 8, with James Ehnes (violin)
  • Rob Roy Overture

Performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis conducting.

In 1834, violinist Niccolo Paganini asked Berlioz for a work in which he could display his power on a fine Stradivarius viola. Berlioz then composed the four-movement symphony Harold en Italie for him.

Similarly, “Rêverie et Caprice” was the form eventually given to an aria from the opera Benvenuto Cellini, which Berlioz transformed it into a violin solo piece three years later. It is the only piece Berlioz ever wrote for solo violin.

The Guardian wrote on the 13th May 2015:

“Ehnes’ viola-playing is warm and expansive, but it is in the relatively compact Rêverie et Caprice that he is at his graceful best, gliding through mercurial mood swings and maintaining a notably lyrical line.”

Here is James Ehnes playing on a violin crafted by Giuseppe Guarneri ‘del Gesù’, in 1737:



And next, here he is in the Sibelius Violin Concerto:


Tags: Berlioz, James Ehnes, violin, viola, Harold in Italy