Mexican composer, conductor, and educator Sergio Berlioz is our Consonant Classical Challenge subject this week. Berlioz, like Heitor Villa-Lobos, effectively combines elements of his native music with classical forms. The resulting works are attractive and accessible to even casual classical music audiences, without sounding derivative or trite. Berlioz has a unique compositional voice, and it's one he's honed to perfection.
Berlioz has an impressive catalog -- he's written two symphonies, six string quartets, concertos for both flute and cello, as well as a number of other chamber and smaller orchestral works. With his background as a conductor, Berlioz brings an intimate knowledge of instruments to his compositions. And that experience shows in the effectiveness of his orchestrations.
Toledo - la ciudad de las generaciones, Opus 13 demonstrates Berlioz' mastery of orchestration and his compositional balance between folk and classical traditions.
Quinta sinfonía "La luz de mayo" Opus 59 is an interesting work that gradually builds to a stirring climax. Composed for orchestra and chorus, Sinfonia No. 5 seems to open up like a blossom as Berlioz adds more forces as the music progresses.
The Cello Concerto, Op. 26 has the soloist and ensemble performing as near-equal partners in the musical conversation. Berlioz's writing for the solo cello is particularly effective, letting the instrument sing.
Sergio Berlioz writes music would be a welcome addition to most any concert program. It's contemporary -- decidedly communicating with modern audiences -- and it represents a continuation rather than a break with classical traditions of the past.
Normally I list some recommended recordings, but there are none available for Sergio Berlioz. Instead, below is a list of some recommended YouTube videos. Most of these are live recordings, and the ensembles aren't always playing at the highest level. But still, it's better to have some examples of Berlioz's music to enjoy than none at all.
Zarabanda for orchestra
Divertimento No. 2 for strings, Op. 23
Canto for flute and orchestra, Op. 41
Magma for string quartet, Op. 51
Dedalos for voice and string quartet, Op. 52