In Donald Runnicles’s wide-ranging repertoire, French music occupies an important position. In February of 2015, the Scottish conductor made a guest appearance with an evening à la française with the Berliner Philharmoniker. The programme included works by Olivier Messiaen, Claude Debussy and Maurice Duruflé. Especially the two early works by Messiaen (anthem) and Debussy (La Damoiselle élue) are hardly ever heard in Germany, and even Duruflé’s Requiem which is very popular in other countries is also a rather rare guest in Germany. Simon Halsey, who served as chief conductor and artistic director of the Rundfunkchor Berlin from 2001–2015, presents the works of the evening in this brief and entertaining introduction. Topics covered include the specific atmosphere of French music, how Debussy’s early enthusiasm for Wagner turned to opposition in later life, and Duruflé’s idiosyncratic tonal language, in which influences from early music are combined with the orchestration of French Modernism.