Monday, March 4, 2013

Mozart Requiem for Mozart

I recently rediscovered a lovely performance of Mozart's Requiem—sung as part of a full Mass almost 20 years ago to celebrate Mozart—It contains some striking contrasts, performer-wise. And it’s a performance I will enjoy watching and listening to again.

This is the last Mozart performance of the lovely and tragically short-lived soprano Arleen Auger—a quintessential Mozart singer who succumbed to cancer in the prime of her career. It's also one of the last performances of the elderly Sir Georg Solti (and I hope I don’t sound unkind if I say he probably should have stopped conducting sooner.) The always-slightly-under-the-radar Vinson Cole was early-mid career; and Cecelia Bartoli and Rene Pape were just getting their feet wet (RP was not yet thirty!). 

Auger and Bartoli
Because of the combination of beginnings and endings and the commemoration of Mozart's death, I found the performance more poignant than usual. Sometimes there is a sense of disjointedness, or maybe lack of focus or concentration. This is probably because the Requiem movements were interspersed with the tradition Latin Requiem Mass. (You can watch/listen to the whole service, or to just the Mozart.) 

From a choral perspective, I noticed that both the Staatsoper Chor, and the Wiener Singverein took part. Apparently the two groups were interspersed; about half of the singers (most likely the Choral Society gang) seemed to have the entire piece memorized (as do most experienced choral singers I knowincluding me). 

The filming is from an interesting perspective as well. Since it was an actual worship service, the musicians are not right in front of the altar as usual in church concert. They were located in the great crossing, about halfway down the nave, facing the altar, with congregation/audience members alarmingly close.

Here are several clips, mostly featuring the four soloists. I think you can actually find this entire performance on YT. Or pick up a used DVD cheap, like I did.  (It's also available on CD.)

Tuba mirum



Requiem Mass on the Bi-Centennial of the death of Wolfgang Amedeus Mozart (1756-1791) on 15 September of 1791 in Vienna. Vienna Philharmonic Orchesta under Sir Georg Solti. Vienna State Opera Concert Chorus & the Vienna Singverein. St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. Arleen Auger, Soprano. Cecilia Bartoli, Mezzo-Soprano. Vinson Cole, Tenor. Rene Pape, Bass.

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