Cherubini: Requiem

Cherubini: Requiem

by Boston Baroque
     
 

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Much admired in his day -- by Beethoven, among others -- Luigi Cherubini remains a sort of missing link in music history. Among his many works, the opera Medea acquired some fame when Maria Callas championed and recorded it, but much still remains to be rediscovered, especially in the realm of sacred music, to which Cherubini devoted much of his energy. The

Overview

Much admired in his day -- by Beethoven, among others -- Luigi Cherubini remains a sort of missing link in music history. Among his many works, the opera Medea acquired some fame when Maria Callas championed and recorded it, but much still remains to be rediscovered, especially in the realm of sacred music, to which Cherubini devoted much of his energy. The Requiem Mass in C Minor -- the first of two requiems he composed -- is a striking case in point. Written for an 1816 ceremony commemorating the anniversary of Louis XVI's execution -- his body, along with Marie Antoinette's, had finally received a proper burial -- it is an inspired work that deserves a place among the requiems of Mozart, Berlioz, Verdi, and others. Considering how important opera was to Cherubini's career, it's no surprise that this music's dramatic touches are highly effective. The reverberating gong stroke that opens the "Dies Irae" is only the most obvious of these; the slow fade-out of the concluding "Agnus Dei," poignantly receding into the distance, is even more dramatically apt. Elsewhere, the tenderness of Cherubini's melodies in the "Kyrie" and "Pie Jesu" foreshadows the comforting style of Fauré's Requiem, and the period-instrument performance by Martin Pearlman's Boston Baroque is equally effective in the music's serene and vehement moods. The latter style fills Cherubini's Funeral March, added to the end of this program, but the tone of serenity is set at the outset by a Beethoven rarity: the Elegiac Song, Op. 118. If Cherubini's music doesn't quite glow with the same effortless perfection as this brief work, the album is nevertheless a worthwhile reminder of his long-forgotten Requiem.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
In the early nineteenth century, Luigi Cherubini's "Requiem in C minor" (1816) was often compared to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Requiem in D minor," which preceded it by 15 years. In our own time, the recordings of these works by Martin Pearlman and the Boston Baroque afford us an opportunity to consider them side by side; because both are historically informed performances on authentic instruments, of works that are similar in substance and form, comparisons are reasonable. Of course, this 2007 Telarc presentation of Cherubini's "Requiem" has the same splendid sound and exceptional reproduction of the Mozart recording, which was released in 1995 by the same label. The performances in both cases are extraordinary: Pearlman and his ensemble are especially sensitive in sacred repertoire, and the expressions of both the choir and the orchestra approach the sublime. However, there is an important difference between the Mozart work and the Cherubini, insofar as the "Requiem in D minor" is a bona fide masterpiece, while the "Requiem in C minor" is merely a respectable piece of late Classical (or early Romantic) orthodoxy. Cherubini was not exploring new musical ground in his "Requiem" -- composed as a memorial to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, it had to be conservative in style -- and the influences of church and monarchy are undeniably felt in this work's austerity and stiff respectability. Also, where Mozart's vocal soloists give a distinctly personal and comforting quality to his mass for the dead, Cherubini instead uses the choir tutti throughout, perhaps to eliminate the expression of individuality. Cherubini's music is at times impressive and interesting -- sometimes even operatic in character -- but it is less than moving or spiritually uplifting, and even this committed and skilled rendition fails to make it seem much more than utilitarian church music. Framed by Ludwig van Beethoven's soothing "Elegiac Song, Op. 118," and Cherubini's theatrically grim "Marche funèbre," the "Requiem in C minor" comes across as a minor choral work that deserves to be heard occasionally, but should not be ranked as highly as Mozart's swan song.
Gramophone - John Warrack
Martin Pearlman and the Boston Baroque forces tackle [the Requiem] with a will, most effectively in the quieter movements.
San Francisco Chronicle - Steven Winn
Cherubini provided some striking touches [in the Requeim], including a propulsive fugue ("Domine Jesu Christe"), a gong in the Dies Irae and a meandering bassoon line as a leading edge for his Introit.
Newark Star-Ledger - Bradley Bambarger
1/2 This disc -- showing off Boston Baroque's fine chorus and period-instrument players in an atmospheric recording -- does Cherubini's [Requiem] a service.
Daily Telegraph - Matthew Rye
This period-instrument performance from Boston Baroque expertly conveys [the Requiem's] varying moods of sombreness, wrath and comfort.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/23/2007
Label:
Telarc
UPC:
0089408065828
catalogNumber:
80658
Rank:
200848

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Elegiac song (Elegischer Gesang) ("Sanft wie du lebtest") for 4 voices & string quartet, Op. 118  - Ludwig van Beethoven  -  Boston Baroque  -  Boston Baroque  - Anilda Carrasquillo  - Richard Dyer  - Martin Pearlman
  2. Requiem No.1 (à la mémoire de Louis XVI), for chorus & orchestra in C minor  - Luigi Cherubini  -  Boston Baroque  -  Boston Baroque  - Anilda Carrasquillo  - Richard Dyer  - Martin Pearlman
  3. Funeral March, for orchestra  - Luigi Cherubini  -  Boston Baroque  -  Boston Baroque  - Anilda Carrasquillo  - Richard Dyer  - Martin Pearlman

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