Founded in 1989 by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique aims to bring the stylistic fidelity and intensity of expression of the renowned English Baroque Soloists to the music of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
From its inception the ORR has won plaudits internationally, notably for its interpretation of the works of Beethoven, which it performed extensively and recorded for Deutsche Grammophon in the 1990s. The orchestra has recently returned to this repertoire with successful tours of Beethoven symphonies and Missa Solemnis in Europe and the USA, including a live recording of Missa Solemnis by the company’s own record label, Soli Deo Gloria.
The orchestra has also been acclaimed for its interpretations of all the major early Romantic composers, starting with Hector Berlioz. They performed and recorded his Symphonie Fantastique in the hall of the old Paris Conservatoire, where the very first performance took place in 1830. In 1993, together with the Monteverdi Choir, the orchestra gave the first modern performances of the newly rediscovered Messe Solennelle. They later joined forces to perform L’Enfance du Christ at the Proms as well as the first complete staged performances in France of Berlioz’s masterpiece Les Troyens, given at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.
Other critically acclaimed initiatives have included a project entitled ‘Schumann Revealed’ given at the Barbican, including recordings of the complete Schumann symphonies and Das Paradies und die Peri. In 2007/8 ‘Brahms: Roots and Memory’ given at the Salle Pleyel and the Royal Festival Hall, setting Brahms’ four symphonies in the context of his most significant choral works and music of the 16th to 19th centuries that Brahms himself transcribed and conducted. Operas by Weber (Oberon and Le Freyschütz), Bizet (Carmen), Chabrier (L’Etoile), Verdi (Falstaff) and Debussy (Pelléas et Mélisande) have also been performed in new productions in France, Italy and London.
Since 2015, the ORR has again focussed on Berlioz, performing his Symphony Fantastique at the BBC Proms 2015, followed by performances of Lélio and Symphony Fantastique at the Edinburgh International Festival and Festival. In 2016, the ORR returned to the Proms with Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette (as part of Shakespeare 400), before touring a programme of Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms with acclaimed concert pianist Kristian Bezuidenhout. In 2017, the Orchestra once again returned to the music of Berlioz via performances of his monumental La Damnation de Faust
2018 saw a renewed commitment to Berlioz’s music, with an extensive tour of his major symphonic works (including Harold in Italy, Lélio and Symphonie Fantastique) across Europe and the United States, the highlight of which was undoubtedly an appearance at the BBC Proms with star mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato, amongst concerts in Europe and in the United States. As well as Berlioz, the ORR also gave several performances of Verdi’s monumental Requiem with the Monteverdi Choir in a critically-acclaimed European tour.
The ORR’s five-year commitment to the music of Berlioz – which has seen them showcase varied programmes of the composer’s works across Europe and the United States, and at the BBC Proms over the past four consecutive years – will culminate in 2019 by marking the 150th anniversary of Berlioz’s death. In the summer, the ORR will be joined by the Monteverdi Choir and a cast of international soloists to perform a series of staged concerts of Berlioz’s first opera, Benvenuto Cellini, in what will be the first contemporary performances of the piece on period instruments: It is perhaps fitting, therefore, that these landmark concerts will also take place in the thirtieth anniversary year of the ORR’s inception.
The Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique is under the patronage of HRH The Prince of Wales.