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Symphonic Concert
Event type: Symphonic, choral, large-scale vocal-instrumental
Hall: Concert Hall
Subscription: A1 - Symphonic concerts, Z1 - Golden subscription
Price: 25, 35, 45, 50, 60 zł

After its 18th-century heyday, in the next century the oratorio experienced a crisis. Haydn’s masterpieces were considered as the crowning achievement in this genre, and Beethoven’s unfavourably received Christ on the Mount of Olives was seen as proof of the oratorio’s decline. Some years later, however, composers successfully revived the genre in new contexts and making use of new means of expression. Mendelssohn’s great oratorios Paulus and Elias are still part of the international repertoire, whereas Berlioz’s The Childhood of Christ (composed several years after the success of Paulus) remains better known in his mother country (where it is often performed at Christmastide) than abroad. In Poland the composition is but rarely performed, which makes today’s concert the more unique. This trilogie sacrée, as the composer himself described it, consists of three great scenes derived from just a few sentences in The Gospel of Matthew and supplemented by complex apocryphal material: Herod's Dream – The Flight to Egypt – The Arrival at Sais. The story is told by a narrator, and its protagonists are: the Virgin Mary, Joseph and Herod. Christ as the main hero is an infant and therefore silent in this story. Interestingly, Berlioz’s oratorio originated in a musical joke: Berlioz rewrote his organ piece L'adieu des bergers for choir and publicised it as a rediscovered work by a (fictitious) composer named Ducré. Berlioz then made fun of the praises lavished on the “forgotten early French master” by the critics, who were usually unfavourably disposed toward Berlioz himself. The second part of the trilogy was added in 1852 to that choral piece (still popular as an independent composition), and the success of that second part encouraged the composer to design the complete oratorio as we know it today. It was one of the more successful compositions by this artist, rather underestimated by the French audience in his lifetime.

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