- Requiem, for soloists, chorus, orchestra & organ in C minor
Antonio Salieri remains best known for the image of him promoted by the play and film Amadeus, both based on a story that went back almost to the time of Mozart's death: even Alexander Pushkin, writing in Russia in the 1820s, could assume the audience for his short play Mozart and Salieri was familiar with the idea that Salieri killed Mozart out of what might be called professional jealousy. Modern historians believe that it's all a load of tosh, and in fact the pendulum is swinging to the other extreme with suggestions that Mozart might have written his three final symphonies for a private orchestra Salieri maintained. Performers are starting to resurrect Salieri's works, which are competent, splendid (as Joseph II's court composer he had resources at his command that were hard for Mozart to muster), and almost always square and conventional. Even the fact that he apparently wrote this "Requiem in C minor" for his own funeral (it was performed there) did not stimulate much of a personal response to the text, which is mostly given to the choir. For Amadeus fans, the work does not betray any anxiety of influence from Mozart and really sounds very little like Mozart's "Requiem in D minor, K. 626," at all. The news on the performance front is all good, and if you want to try out one of Salieri's large-scale works this makes a fine place to start. The venerable Chorus of the Gulbenkian Foundation of Lisbon under Lawrence Foster still has a smoother sound than just about any all-adult choir around, and the super audio sound is superb. A final attraction is the presence of two short works, the only occasionally heard late Beethoven cantatas "Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt, Op. 112" (Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage), and the still rarer and unaccountably neglected "Intende voci in B flat major for tenor, chorus, and orchestra, D. 963," dating from the last few months of Franz Schubert's life. This 10-minute work distills the large-scale harmonic thinking of Schubert's late masses down to a modest size and receives a fine performance here. Booklet notes are in English, French, and German.
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Salieri: Requiem based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Mozart probably never knew who he was writing the famous Requiem for, but his rival Antonio Salieri had no such problem: he planned this Mass to be used at his own funeral. It's certainly the work of a craftsman, and while observing all the conventions of its time, offers variety in some of the details, such as the startling key change when the Osanna fugue returns (which almost seems to take the singers by surprise), and a lovely unaccompanied passage for the solo quartet and chorus in the no-strings "Libera Me". Shorter--and cheerier--vocal works by Beethoven and Schubert, two of Salieri's pupils, fill out the disc for a nice program. No texts in any language, which is a shame as the chorus' words are often unintelligible, though they sing well otherwise, as do all the soloists.
Milos Forman's 1984 film Amadeus encouraged in the public mind an image of Salieri as a bumbling also-ran to Mozart's otherworldly genius, with the corollary that his music merited no serious consideration. While this sort of a breezy judgment is surely a little simplistic in its apportioning of all-or-nothing value, the Salieri pieces I have listened to through the years did not make me take serious exception to the notion that his music can be, well, a little dull. This Requiem, however, is a fully vital work that engages its subject matter with intensity of purpose; its dramatic flourishes never feel gratuitous, but are deeply affecting. While moments of sanguine calm flicker through the movements, and dominate the brief middle section made up of the Offertorium, Sanctus, and Benedictus, the mood overall is elegiac. The whole is interlaced with a poignant melodic leitmotif whose first incarnation on the English horn pierces the sepulchral mood of the opening bars and resurfaces in several movements. Perhaps the designee of Salieri's Requiem proved especially inspiring: the piece was written to be performed at the composer's own funeral. There are no solos, and few moments when the quartet of vocalists break off from the choir; maybe an indication that this composer known primarily for his operas, writing in an age when sacred music was frequently suffused with vocal virtuosity borrowed from the stage, distanced himself entirely from worldly matters in contemplating his own death and afterlife.