Berlioz - Harold in Italy, La Mort de Cleopatre | LSO Live LSO0760

Berlioz - Harold in Italy, La Mort de Cleopatre

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Label: LSO Live

Cat No: LSO0760

Format: SACD

Number of Discs: 1

Release Date: 9th February 2015



Antoine Tamestit (viola)
Karen Cargill (mezzo-soprano)
London Symphony Orchestra


Valery Gergiev


Berlioz, Hector

Harold in Italy, op.16
La Mort de Cleopatre


Antoine Tamestit (viola)
Karen Cargill (mezzo-soprano)
London Symphony Orchestra


Valery Gergiev


Violist Antoine Tamestit and mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill join forces with the London Symphony Orchestra and Valery Gergiev in the latest instalment of their Berlioz exploration.

Composed in 1834 at the suggestion of Paganini and completed in Montmartre, 'Harold en Italie' received its first performance at the Conservatoire de Paris later that year. Taking inspiration from Lord Byron’s 'Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage', 'Harold en Italie' is among the most poetic of Berlioz’s oeuvre, its ingenious use of solo viola charting the dreamy Harold’s wanderings throughout the Italian countryside and the characters encountered along the way. In this new recording Antoine Tamestit brings a forthright personality to the hero.

Maestro Gergiev’s deep musicianship added the sort of instinctive passion one needs with Berlioz and especially with 'Harold en Italie'. All of this was overwhelmingly inspiring for me and made these concerts and recordings a truly unique and unforgettable experience”, says Tamestit.

Karen Cargill gives an emotionally intense performance of the dramatic cantata for 'La mort de Cléopâtre', adding to her already formidable reputation in the Berlioz canon. She says, “La mort de Cléopâtre is a monumental work, grand in drama, orchestration and vocally challenging. The scope of the piece is huge, not only emotionally – it has a vocal range of over two octaves within only a few pages, ultimately quite operatic in delivery. Pacing the work is a huge part of performing it, allowing the character to recollect, reflect and ultimately act. The death scene is so wonderfully written, so simple and real.”

Concert Reviews:
"Star of the show was viola player Antoine Tamestit. An impeccable soloist in Harold in Italy by Berlioz, he projected its lyricism injecting just the right sort of colour to tell a highly effective story of Berlioz’s Italian journey." - The Scotsman

"Cargill sang with superb diction and a marvellously rich upper register. Cargill’s powerful portrayal of Cleopatra’s final moments was well served here by some captivating orchestral playing." -

"Karen Cargill gave it (Cleopatra cantata) with operatic declamation and high-octane, free-flowing emotionalism, intense drama to the fore and, when required, lyrical contemplation." -

"There is no sacrificing of the music’s Byronic aura, which is strengthened by the rich, burgundy timbre of Antoine Tamestit’s solo viola and the mellifluous lyricism and vitality of his playing." - Daily Telegraph

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