Wednesday, April 17, 2013

For Such a Time As This...

I am so glad that winter has unclenched its fist and I could spend some time in the garden. I guess I’ve grown accustomed to local standards of cold weather, but even as a northerner, I thought it was a long winter. I was beginning to think that spring could not start until we played the Rite of Spring in May!

The focus this week is on Verdi’s Requiem, coming this Thursday and Friday nights to a theatre near you! (Tennessee Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Not merely one of the great Requiems (Mozart, Brahms, Fauré), but it is great Verdi also. To wit:

  • There will be trumpets literally all over the place; some of the most amazing brass writing  you are every likely to hear. 
  • A transcendent flute trio in a variation within the Agnus Dei movement,
  • A bassoon quartet (yes, it’s scored for pairs of flutes, oboes and clarinets, but FOUR bassoons) in the Libera me.
  •  Let’s don’t forget about that cello section solo (soli) that starts out the Offertorio: a THREE AND A HALF OCTAVE arpeggio up, and then another, and then one going down. Beautifully simple music that Verdi wished he could have written for a single voice to sing.
  •  If you like Beethoven’s 9th but you don’t want to wait three movements before you hear voices, then this is the concert for you. The Verdi Requiem is the Italian Beethoven 9. 

Verdi’s most cherished operas earn their affection through Verdi’s skill as a dramaturg. The Dies irae hits you like a ton of bricks and then keeps showing up again in the darnedest places later on in the work. This is music you have heard in Django Unchained, Harry Potter, and IMDb-only-knows how many other movies.

I can’t say enough about the Verdi. This is healing music that was written in memory of Verdi’s friend, poet and author Alessandro Manzoni. It was premiered on the first anniversary of Manzoni’s death and still is known in some circles as the “Manzoni Requiem.” I also can’t say enough about the power of triumphant music such as the Verdi to cleanse the spirit and transport the heart, when the heart needs transporting the most. It is a lengthy work (about 85 minutes or so) which ends peacefully, but then, marathons are long, too. And should end peacefully.


“Bullies, oppressors and all men who do violence to the rights of others are guilty not only of their own crimes, but also of the corruption they bring into the hearts of their victims.”

Alessandro Manzoni, The Betrothed

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