Le Concert des Nations:
Alfredo Bernardini (oboe), Paolo Grazzi (oboe), Carles Riera (clarinet), Guy van Waas (cor de basset), Albert Gumi (cor de basset), Erica Langereis (cor de basset), Walter Stiftner (contrabassoon), Raul Diaz (horn), Javier Bonet-Manrique (horn), Anita Mitterer (first violin I), Gustavo Zarba (violin I), Diane Moore (violin I), Isabel Serrano (violin I), Maria Luiza Brendao (violin II), Fabrizio Cipriani (violin II), Brigit Taubel (violin II), Lydia Cevidalli (violin II), Angelo Bartoletti ('cello), Robert Brown ('cello), Alix Verzier (alto), Ulrike Schaar (alto), Lorenz Duftschmid (violone), Roberto Sensi (contrabass)
Jordi Savall, dir.
- Montserrat Figueras (soprano), Claudia Schubert (alto), Gerd Turk (tenor), Stephan Schreckenberger (bass)
La Capella Reial de Catalunya:
Isabel Alvarez (soprano), Maria Angels Biosca (soprano), Celia Elsdorfer (soprano), Estrella Estrevez (soprano), Carme Marques (soprano), Elisabetta Tiso (soprano), Maite Arruabarrena (alto), Maria Dolors Cortes (alto), Maria Carme Duran (alto), Montserrat Pi (alto), Carolina Segarra (alto), Lambert Climent (tenor), Francesc Garrigosa (tenor), Pedro Ormazabal (tenor), Pere Pou (tenor), Victor Alonso (bass), Daniele Carnovich, Joan Puigdellivol (bass), Josep Miquel Ramon (bass), Jordi Ricart (bass)
Le Concert des Nations:
Carles Riera (cor de basset), Guy van Waas (cor de basset), Daniel Lassalle (tenor trombone, solo), Richard Cheetham (alto trombone), Patrick Jackman (bass trombone), Joseo Borr?s (bassoon), Lorenzo Alpert (bassoon), Guy Ferber (trumpet), Jean-Luc Machicot (trumpet), Pedro Estevan (tympani), Anita Mitterer (first violin I), Gustavo Zarba (violin I), Diane Moore (violin I), Isabel Serrano (violin I), Maria Luiza Brendao (violin II), Fabrizio Cipriani (violin II), Brigit Taubel (violin II), Lydia Cevidalli (violin II), Angelo Bartoletti (alto), Robert Brown (alto), Alix Verzier ('cello), Ulrike Schaar ('cello), Lorenz Duftschmid (violone), Roberto Sensi (contrabass), Pierre Hantai (organ)
Jordi Savall, dir.
Recording site and date:
Eglise des Dominicains, Guebwiller, Alsace, France [08/1991];
Rel.: 1992 (E), 09/08/1998 (ES 9915), 2001 (ES 9965), 1993 (minidisc)
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Requiem, K 626
Much has been written over the past two centuries about Mozart's most famous sacred work, the Requiem. It is wrapped in a shroud of mystery, due both to the circumstances of its composition and to the fact that it was left unfinished. We now know that, during the summer of 1791, Mozart received the commission for his Requiem from the Count von Walsegg-Stuppach (1763-1827), a fellow Freemason. The count, who was passionately fond of music and was in the habit of organizing private concerts at his castle, wished to have the work performed in memory of his wife, who had died on 14 February of that same year, at the age of twenty. Walsegg-Stuppach had already commissioned a large number of works from other composers (for example, flute quartets from Franz Anton Hoffmeister) and after these concerts he would usually ask his guests to guess the composer. He no doubt planned to do the same with the Requiem, and there is no reason to believe, as has been suggested, that he intended to make out he had composed the work himself. The fact remains that he copied the work out in his own hand and conducted it himself at Wiener-Neustadt on 14 December 1793. Prior to that, on 2 January of the same year, a performance had been organized in Vienna by Baron van Swieten for the benefit of Constanze Mozart.
The sources indicate that Mozart did not set to work on the Requiem before his return Irom Prague (where he had given La clemenza di Tito) towards the middle of September 1791. On the 30th of the same month, the first performance of The Magic Flute was given, and it was during that period that Mozart composed his Clarinet Concerto. Mozart died on 5 December, leaving the Requiem unfinished. Constanze first of all asked the composer Josef Eybler (1765-1846) to complete it, and, when he declined the offer, she asked another of Mozart's disciples. Franz Xaver Sussmayr (1766-1803). who provided the version that is most often heard nowadays. (Sussmayr likewise 'finished' the Horn Concerto in D major K 412. which was also composed in 1791.) Sussmayr claimed he 'prepared' the Sanctus, the Benedictus and the Agnus Dei, which are missing from Mozart's manuscript, but his contribution to these sections was no doubt less substantial than was at one time believed. The manuscript shows that Mozart composed the whole of the Introit. most of the Kyrie (the orchestration was completed by Sussmayr), and that for the six sections of the Sequence (apart from the Lacrimosa, which breaks off after eight bars) and the Offertory's two, he wrote down all the vocal parts and the figured bass, and provided significant indications as to the orchestration.
When he was composing his Requiem. Mozart had in mind several models by Austrian composers of his time, the most important being without doubt the one in C minor written in December 1771 (twenty years earlier) by Michael Haydn for the funeral of Sigismund von Schrattenbach. Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg (it is possible that in reality Michael Haydn started to compose it after losing his only daughter, who died on 27 January 1771. at the age of one). We can observe in Mozart's Requiem and that of Michael Haydn the same structure in certain sections, as well as several thematic similarities. Moreover the two works set exactly the same text to music, using the same techniques. In both cases, the Gradual, the Tractus and the Libera are missing. We must note, however, that in Michael Haydn's version of the Introit, the 'Te decet hym-nus. Deus. in Sion' is a measured version of the first Gregorian mode, whereas Mozart uses at this point the 'tonus peregrinus'. which was nothing particularly exceptional: other composers, including Georg Reutter the younger (1708-1772). had used this expedient before him. The trombone solo at the beginning of the 'Tuba mirum' (it is by Mozart) is also traditional, as is the fugal treatment of 'Quam olim Abrahae'.
The work is a synthesis of operatic. Masonic and erudite elements. Its sombre colours are due to the absence of instruments such as flutes, oboes and horns in favour of the basset horn, the bassoon, the trumpet and the trombone (not to forget the timpani and the strings). The Kyrie is a double fugue in D major on a subject of a type frequently used by Bach and Handel, but also Haydn and many others: a jump of a fifth below (here a third. A-F) followed by the diminished seventh (B fiat-C sharp) encompassing the aforementioned fifth. Among the Masonic elements are the basset homs. and it has been noted that the bass solo in the 'Tuba mirum' is markedly similar in character to Sarastro's music in The Magic Flute, and that the dramatic tones of the 'Dies irae' and 'Confutatis' bear a strong resemblance to the cries of rage of the Queen of the Night and Monostatos in the same opera.
It has recently been proved that Mozart envisaged and even set about composing several sacred works in the late 1780s (he did not, however complete them): the Requiem must also be seen in this context. The final Communion is a recapitulation of the Introit and the Kyrie: this relatively common solution, which was probably adopted by Sussmayr at Mozart's request, has the advantage of letting us hear authentic strains at the end of the work.
- Marc Vignal (translation: Mary Pardoe)
Trie 'Requiem' in D minor. Mozart's spiritual testament
Mozart's Requiem, notwithstanding the fragmentary form in which it has come down to us (and despite the fact that it was completed after his death by Franz Xaver Sussmayr with some additions by Joseph Eybler) wholly bears the stamp of its creator's genius. His conception is perceptible through the general structure of the work, and that irrespective, even, of the difference in character or quality of the parts that were completed later.
It is highly unlikely that a second-rate composer such as Sussmayr, who had never written anything worthy of note, would have been capable of finishing the Lacrimosa and composing the Sanctus. the Benedictus and the Agnus Dei entirely on his own. However, we shall never know what access Siissmayr had to the rough drafts, or whether he heard Mozart himself play them - which would have enabled him to memorise them to a large extent.
It is necessary today to reconsider the instrumentation, taking the contributions of Joseph Eybler and Sussmayr as a starting-point, and trying to find a synthesis between these versions and what we have to the original autograph, in order to bring out the spirit of Mozart as perfectly as possible.
In our performance we have recreated as far as is feasible the conditions prevalent at the time. The soloists and the choir (reduced to twenty members) sing in Latin with the transparency and intensity that is needed for the pronunciation that was current in Vienna at the end of the 18th century. The work is played on period instruments at a pitch of 430 Hz; the orchestra consists of eighteen string instruments, nine wind instruments, organ and timpani. The trombones have the narrow mouthpiece that was in use at the time, and we also use real basset horns with five keys plus a lower register - after Theodor Lotz, who worked with Stadler. Mozart's clarinettist, and made his instruments.
However, all this is of little importance compared to the actual interpretation: from beginning to end, it should make us feel all the warmth and fervour of the Catholic faith and trust in God's mercy. The Requiem is a moving funeral lament and also a miraculous moment of grace, with that surprising balance between the declamatory, rhythmical force of the text and its melodic setting, between the almost infinite flight of the polyphonic lines and its attachment to an inexorable harmonic force, between details in phrasing and contrasts in dynamics. It appears above all through that perception of movement, which makes the tempo the true heart of the music: whispering or throbbing, passion or prayer - by the juxtaposition of all these forces in one great upsurge of feeling, we attain one of the greatest messages that the human creative genius has ever produced on the mystery of death.
Death viewed as a subject for profound meditation on the meaning of life was already familiar to Mozart at a young age. This is shown in one of the letters he wrote to his ailing father in 1787 (he was then thirty-one): '... As death, if we look at it closely, is the real aim of our lives, I have become so well acquainted in recent years with this true, perfect friend to man that not only is there no longer anything awesome about it for me. but I find the idea very soothing and comforting! and I thank my God for having granted me the good fortune to find the opportunity [...) of getting to know it as the key to our true happiness. I never go to bed without thinking that, tomorrow perhaps, young as I may be. I will no longer be here.'
According to various contemporary accounts, Mozart, who normally kept his art and his personal life quite separate, was very deeply fond of certain works: we know that the quartet in the last act of Idomeneo moved him to tears; we also know that, during a rehearsal of the Requiem shortly before his death, he burst into tears on hearing the Lacrimosa.
All these things perhaps explain the extraordinary expressive force of this masterpiece: a wonderfully expounded spiritual testament to man's profound distress faced with the mystery of death. Through this Christian liturgical text Mozart managed to express, as only he could do. all the various states of mind, from fear of the Judgement (Dies irae) to trust in God's mercy (Kyrie). from the anxiety of useless suffering (Recordare) to confidence in another world, full of light (Lucent eis). It is a funeral lament, but more than that, it is a final prayer, imploring God's mercy - 'Be beside me at the moment of death' -which leaves us hope for a new life. Rarely has a piece of music been so strongly marked by the genius, the expression, the faith and the suffering of a human being.
- Jordi Savall (translation: Mary Pardoe)