Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Another Verdi Requiem worth mentioning

I've written before that beauty is my connection to the Divine--beauty in music, in visual arts, in words, even in people and people's hearts.  Definitely in puppies! I am forever grateful to the spiritual counselor who told me of the quote of dear St. Francis: "God, you are beauty!" 

I recall once seeing a performance of La Boheme that left me sobbing at the end. At the curtain call I cried even harder, for there was Mimi, not dead at all, but taking a bow! A great performance of the Verdi Requiem takes my breath away in the same way. This is my experience of the Verdi Requiem performance that inspired my attempt a few years ago at Ten Days, Ten Verdi Requiems. That was also my experience with the performance linked below. 

This was the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, with Montserrat Caballé, Bianca Berini, Placido Domingo, Paul Plishka, and the Westminster Choir, in 1980. I saw this performance on Live From Lincoln Center during my first semester of college (please don't do the math!), at the home of my college choir director. I am grateful to him for exposing me to an amazing world of music that was new to me. At the tender age of 17 I didn't know the Verdi Requiem or any of the soloists. Boy howdy, what an introduction!

Regardless of what you yourself believe, you must always acknowledge the beliefs of composers and lyricists and their skills in illustrating those beliefs. Great scholarly works have been written about this. Is there a moment in music that gives comfort like "Salva me"?  This is one of those moments that brings to mind the blood of Christ flowing to save the world. The floated B-flat at the end of the slow section of "Libera me" feels so freeing, so liberating, in fact! And who better to float a B-flat that Montserrat Caballé?!  The fear in "Mors stupebit" is explicit, regardless of what key bass actually winds up in. (I've reached the point where it sounds wrong to me when a bass ends that section in tune! I believe Paul Plishka did OK in this challenge!) I've often said that "Liber scriptus" (in effect, "Y'all gonna be judged in the book of life!") should part your hair, and Biana Berini didn't fail in this! A good "Lacrymosa" reminds one of tears, and of course this performance was remarkable. 

I could write for days about special moments in this work and how beautifully the soloists, chorus, and orchestra performed them, but instead I have linked the video below. (That's also my excuse for not searching the web for hours to find pictures to steal borrow for this post.)

I highly recommend giving this video a view. You won't regret it.




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