15 May 2014

Music for my funeral


People have music at their funerals and I've often thought what I might wish to have at mine. We heard Mozart's Requiem tonight at the Albert Hall for the CIMF and it's profoundly melancholy and touching, but who would have the self-regard to think they justified it? Who could deserve it? We've heard a performance before. Everyone knows it. It was played here on period instruments (A430Mhz). It's tragic; it's truthful; it's redemptive and ecstatic. How can you respond to the choir singing ever-rising sequences? With tears or with unhinged laughter? It's just too profound. It's mostly choral, but there are passages of four solo voices: soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor and bass. They sometimes sing individually, but mostly with entwined voices, perhaps the tenor appearing through, or the soprano soaring, or the two women in harmony. This version was shortened from the commonly performed one. It was a version by Richard Maunder that's missing three passages (Sanctus, Hosanna and Benedictus) that appear to be Süssmayr not Mozart. Süssmayr was the student of Mozart who was supposed to have completed the work when Mozart died. I'll check our CD later to hear the missing passages, but there were more than enough renowned and deeply affecting passages here. This is music that you wish won't end. I heard it as a little rough in the orchestra at times but very nicely performed by both choir and soloists. The string sections were led by seasoned performers, but these were young players and they were apparently playing on gut strings for the first time. I know gut on a double bass and it is a very different experience so I feel for them; a baptism of fire. Mozart's Requiem was performed by Simone Riksman (soprano), Hannah Fraser (mezzo-soprano), Christopher Saunders (tenor), Andrew Fysh (bass), the Wallfisch Band with ACO2, Elisabeth LeGuin (cello), Albert-Jan Roelofs (organ), Song company with the Sprogis Woods Smith Young Artists and Roland Peelman (conductor).

Preceding the Requiem was another work of death and immense sadness, a Stabat Mater. Stabat Mater is a 13th Century Catholic hymn of Maria dolorosa standing under the Cross of Jesus. You can only imagine the depth of sorrow in this image. Stabat Maters have been written by many composers. Pergolesi's is the famous one; this was by Luigi Boccherini of Lucca. This version was a new edition by Elisabeth Le Guin for three voices. Elisabeth ventured from the US to play cello for this performance. I enjoyed this performance but was a little non-plussed by Boccherini's work. The first notes are appropriately mournful, but then the music becomes merely dignified, then perhaps dramatic, sometimes almost light and danceable and not sufficiently pathetic to my ears. None-the-less it's a worthy work, Elisabeth's work is admirable and I loved the three voices, tenor and two sopranos. I particularly enjoyed the tenor, although intertwined sopranos were also luxurious. Boccherini Stabat Mater was performed by Susannah Lowergren and Anna Fraser (sopranos), Christopher Saunders (tenor), the Wallfisch Band with ACO2 and Roland Peelman (conductor).

  • The painting is Pietro Perugino, Mary at the Cross (1482) National Gallery, Washington DC, USA. Click on pic to view larger
  • 1 comment:

    Sophie Bell said...

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