Charles Dutoit returns to the BSO podium for two weeks in the 2015-2016 season. In this first program he leads two Berlioz works for chorus and orchestra: the major, wide-ranging, and highly dramatic Te Deum, featuring solo tenor Paul Groves, and the lesser-known Resurrexit, a movement from a Missa solennelle complete Mass setting from 1824. Henri Dutilleux's masterful Timbres, espace, mouvementcontinues the BSO's recognition of the 100th anniversary of the composer's birth. This beautiful 1978 work was inspired by Van Gogh's most famous painting, The Starry Night.(Some emphasis added.)
In performance, "Resurrexit" and "Timbres, espace, mouvement" will precede the intermission and "Te Deum" follow it. As usual, there are links to audio previews, program notes, performer bios, etc. on that detail page.
Reviews were mixed. In the Globe, we read of "verve" in the conducting of the opening piece and attention to atmosphere and detail in the second, but the reviewer found "more than a few patchy moments" in the singing of the adult chorus, while the children's chorus was fine. The Boston Musical Intelligencer loved the "Resurrexit" and raved over the "Timbres, espace, mouvement," but found the "Te Deum" "all too often leaning precariously on the brink of unintelligibility. Berlioz’s bigness was too much for the place." Perhaps the sound will be clearer when filtered through the radio or the web.
At any rate, I didn't have the dissatisfaction the BMInt reviewer did. Berlioz knew how to write good loud music, with enough quieter stuff so that the loud parts are really fun. The "Resurrexit" and "Te Deum" are good examples: glorious masses of sound. I ought to complain about Berlioz taking liberties with the texts: inserting words into the "Resurrexit" and rearranging the order of the "Te Deum" and leaving out a couple of lines. On the other hand, he wasn't composing either for an actual liturgy when he did those things, so maybe it's alright. Anyway, I loved wallowing in it. As for the Dutilleux, I may have been trying too hard to hear what the program notes talked about. I was underwhelmed, but had the feeling that I didn't get it. Maybe listening without specific expectations will work better. I'll be out on Saturday evening, but I hope I'll be able to listen to the rebroadcast on March 7.
So by all means, listen if you can. If you're within striking distance of Symphony Hall, get a ticket and go. Otherwise, enjoy it over the facilities of WCRB. Their BSO page gives a link to their podcast with interviews with Maestro Dutilleux and second chair horn player Rachel Childers. It also gives the broadcast/webstream schedule for the remainder of the BSO season and other features.