Thursday 26 Sep 2013, 7.30pmRoyal Festival Hall, London

Philharmonia Box Office : 020 7921 3907

Esa-Pekka Salonen conductor

Christianne Stotijn mezzo soprano

Paul Groves tenor

Gerald Finley baritone

Philharmonia Chorus choir

Berlioz Romeo and Juliet (complete)

The new season opens with an event that brings together a stellar cast under Esa-Pekka Salonen's baton to perform Berlioz's electrifying choral symphony, Romeo and Juliet. Widely considered to be his most original and dramatic programmatic work, it is a tour de force for orchestra, chorus and soloists. A personal homage to his own heroes Shakespeare and Beethoven, it has been described by the musicologist Donald Tovey as "one of the most gigantic and convincing masterpieces of music-drama" ever written, pushing the limits of the contemporary orchestra's capabilities in terms of colour, programmatic scope and individual virtuosity. Wagner attended its première in 1839 and was deeply affected by it, later presenting Berlioz with the score of his own Tristan und Isolde inscribed with the words: "To the dear and great author of Romeo and Juliet, from the grateful author of Tristan and Isolde."

Sung in French with English surtitles.

Please note: this programme (and start time) changed in February 2013. Publications printed before this will advertise a performance of Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust, and are incorrect.