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The Philadelphians on WRTI: Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique & Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 2

Stéphane Gallois
French pianist Lise de la Salle performs Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 2 with The Philadelphia Orchestra in this pre-recorded concert broadcast from February 2020.

The Philadelphia Orchestra performs one of the most remarkable symphonies ever written, Symphonie Fantastique of Hector Berlioz, on WRTI, Sunday August 16th at 1 PM on 90.1 and Monday, August 17th at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2.

Herbert Blomstedt conducts the performance, recorded live in concert at Verizon Hall on February 22, 2020.

WRTI's Debra Lew Harder interviews French pianist Lise de la Salle.

The concert begins with a work Felix Mendelssohn composed while on his honeymoon, the Piano Concerto No. 2. How the piece must have sparkled when Mendelssohn himself was the soloist for its premiere in England in 1837! Bringing some sparkle of her own to this work is a French pianist who has made a series of critically acclaimed recordings for the Naïve label, Lise de la Salle.

Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor came in mid-career, at a time when he was juggling his many official duties and the big change in his personal life. It was intended for England, a country with which Mendelssohn enjoyed a long and deep relationship, specifically for the Birmingham Music Festival, where he was slated to conduct his oratorio St. Paul.

Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique was revolutionary. Berlioz actually began this symphony when Beethoven was still alive. He introduces harps into the orchestra for the first time, employs two sets of timpani, and expands and uses the orchestra in ways never before dreamed of. It’s almost impossible to believe that a composer at age 25 could have had such a grasp of the potential for sonic power and expression that a collection of musicians possesses! It’s one of the truly amazing creations in the history of art.

During intermission, Debra Lew Harder speaks backstage with Lise de la Salle, and Susan Lewis chats with guest conductor Herbert Blomstedt.

You won’t want to miss this one! That’s Sunday, April 5th, from 1 to 3pm, on WRTI 90.1,  streaming worldwide at wrti.org, and Monday April 6th, at 7 PM on our HD-2 channel and on our classical stream.


Mendelssohn – Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor

Lise de la Salle, piano


Berlioz – Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Herbert Blomstedt, conductor

Gregg Whiteside is producer and host of  The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts, every Sunday at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1, streaming online at WRTI.org, and on our mobile app! Listen again on Mondays at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2.

Gregg was the host of WRTI's morning drive show from 2012 until his retirement from WRTI in January, 2021. He began producing and hosting The Philadelphia Orchestra In Concert broadcasts in 2013, joining the Orchestra in Hong Kong for the first-ever live international radio broadcasts from that island in 2016, and in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for two historic broadcasts in 2018. You can still hear Gregg as host of the Orchestra broadcasts every Sunday and Monday on WRTI.