- Requiem (Grande Messe des morts), for tenor, chorus & orchestra, H. 75 (Op. 5)
Any undertaking of Hector Berlioz's "Grande Messe des Morts" requires an ambitious conductor and massive forces, including a tenor soloist, a huge choir, a large orchestra with an expanded percussion section of 16 timpani, two bass drums, ten pairs of cymbals, four tam-tams, and four brass ensembles stationed in the auditorium's four corners in the Tuba mirum section of the Sequence, to represent the Last Judgement. Yet for all of the celebrated gigantism of this "Requiem," Berlioz was surprisingly restrained in most of its movements, and the work has many subtle aspects that give the lie to its reputation for bombast. Indeed, Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony, with tenor Kenneth Tarver and the combined Seattle Symphony Chorale and Seattle Pro Musica, deliver a calm, reverent, and deeply moving performance that lingers in the memory with its brooding counterpoint, perhaps even more persistently than its shattering depiction of the general resurrection of the dead. Morlot is widely known for his exceptional performances and recordings of modern music, though his sympathy for Berlioz's heroic Romanticism reveals a greater range of musical interests beyond the promotion of 20th century composers. If this spectacular Berlioz recording is an indication of an expansion of Morlot's repertoire, then listeners should prepare for some truly impressive things to come. Highly recommended.