Mark - many thanks! Was able to listen to this: wonderful if bleak. Robertson's done it in St Louis, but I couldn't get there, alas.
Also liked that requiemsurvey site. I have recently sent them a couple of omissions - the "kleines requiem" (2007) for soprano, organ and electronics by the Austrian Wolfgang Mitterer, born in 1958, and the 2010 Requiem by the Estonian Jüri Reinvere. Have been thinking about Mitterer along with a number of those mentioned in the Clark blog, after all the steam about the "most important living composer"!
Pleasure DST! I'm glad you got the message in time and managed to listen.
In my own case, after looking forward to it all day, I wasn't able to tune in due to family commitments (won't bore you with details!)
I'll see if I can have a listen on youtube to a apart or whole of it on the headphones...
Just had a listen on you tube DST - it's Gert Fischer and the Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Liepzig/Wiegle.
Wow! Fantastic piece, and so clear to follow. I really like especially that Jazzy/bluesy section from about 7 minutes in to 11.30 ish. The coda where you hear the original melody of the spiritual was bleak as you say, very sad and haunting. Just checked on Schott - I thought I could hear vibraphone, guitar and organ (Hammond apparently!)
Now that's given me a whole new perspective on BA Zimmermann...
To return to the other side of the spectrum, Mark, let me (us, if there are other interested members) about the Richafort's Requiem, which is available now in the brand new recording by Hyperion.
I will get it later on by post, probably in mid-September (due to traveling, annual leave, etc.).
By the way, I've no wish to turn the Requiem thread into the let's-proselytize-for-Zimmermann thread - though this forum has seen less apt digressions - but I was gobsmacked to note this relatively recent piece by Tom Service in the Guardian:
I have big problems with his line about the "essential pointlessness of art," even where the Ekklesiastische Aktion is concerned; it's journalese displacing sharper discussion, and asking for the kinds of silly and predictable response ("Oh, so you ADMIT this music is pointless?") that can disfigure this forum. The essay should be read with the last of the five very sensible comments it gets. But it's moving even so, not least in Service's description of how BAZ made the encounter with such music "happen" for him. Not a living composer, but one whose importance is beyond doubt, and whose music will last.
I also noted that the Guardian is doing a series of "guides to contemporary classical music." Now that's what I call responsible music journalism.
DST, feel free to turn this thread to whatever you wish, but allow me to say a word not on Zimmermann (in any case his chances are so slim to get new converts), but about this Mr. Service of the Guardian and what you call "responsible music journalism". The guy provides simply a good service to this music.
I read some of his articles and the man is not a responsible music journalist, but, simply, an unashamed advocate of the most "contemporary" music. He merely advertises and tries to "sell" products that, in a natural way, could not pass any test. The most "interesting" article was the one on the five myths about contemporary classical (!) music", where, after some unfortunate and least convincing musical arguments, resorts to the desperate cry: "all you need is an open mind and open ears". What he misunderstood is that Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and the rest of that truly Classic league didn't need our open mind or our open ears; their truly great music opened our minds and ears! That's why they pass any test of time, place or style/fashion and mind.
P. Clark in his Gramophone blog, in his latest article, he ends up by paraphrasing Lennon's song of "Give peace a chance" by almost desperately asking :"give the pieces a chance". However, most of these "pieces" have, in all those years, their chances and it didn't work. So, it's not the chances they are deprived of; it's their musical nature that keep them marginalised.
Having said that, I don't exclude from the current equation the (few or some) quite musical works, including some brilliant Requiems by 20th century composers we have already discussed in this thread, that are worthy of our attention and can be compelling listening experience.
Hi DST. I've read that piece twice today by Tom Service and I was delighted with the appreciation being shown for BAZ in the comments afterwards. Funnily enough I was going to use that abbreviation myself. (Hopefully we won't get 'Bazi tops the proms this week' in one of the uk papers here!)
Generally it's a very decent piece, but you're right about that line re:'pointlessness' which leaps out and grabs you by the scruff of the neck. It's the kind of idea that I've occasionally come across before by critics as well, though I'm struggling to remember where and when...
As the last commentator afterwards noted, Zimmermann's eclecticism should perhaps be read as a reflection on what it means to compose in a 20th Century world of such musical and cultural pluralism. I particularly like the suggestion of him being a post-modern composer with a use of intertextuality, both literary and musical. Tom Service's evident enthusiasm for Ecclesiastical Action does come over well.
(Don't worry about where the thread goes DST - as Uber said, threads weave in and out!)
Thanks for that link onto The Guardian too - I shall have a look at the whole series.
Hi Mark - Yes, I too felt weird about using BAZ - and a tabloid "Bazi" is a scary prospect - but I think the risk of confusion with Udo or Walter (him as came up in the Clark blog) is the problem.
By the way, did you know that BAZ - ouch, not easy! - was a Catholic who signed almost all his scores with the acronym O.A.M.D.G. (for "Omnia ad majorem Dei gloriam," the Jesuit motto)? Not to get mixed up in the forum's wackier exchanges on faith and composition (please not) but if you didn't know I thought you might be interested.
That also goes for "Die Soldaten", whose latest production, as one respondent to T. Service noted, starts its run at Salzburg on Aug. 20. Parla, you may be able to avert the evil with a well-timed e-mail to Alexander Pereira - just tell him no-one is interested, and that he shouldn't believe everything he hears. As it's a co-production, however, you may have to contact La Scala too. I'm afraid I can't undertake to help, since I hold the opera in the highest regard. Alas, the last time I heard it live was under Gielen in Frankfurt in 1981 (!!), and finances, familial commitments and lately health have held me back from more recent stagings, even the Bochum one heard and seen in New York in 2008.
Now at last to the Delius Requiem, and I will be happy to listen to the Richafort too.
Hi Tagalie. I can't remember which thread you mentioned Victoria on so putting it on this one as it's a Requiem anyway...
Had a listen earlier today to the Victoria 1605 Requiem. Beautiful music. Very gentle and sensitive yet also with great luscious harmonies.
Must listen to some more (I'd started with Ockeghem, Obrecht even and Dufay and was slowly working my way forwards!)
(Famous painting of Dufay and Binchois. And the one that got away was this big!) Mark
Great to hear from you Mark, you're one of the few remaining regular posters with whom it's worth carrying on a conversation.
Which performance of the Victoria Requiem, by the way? I got to know the work from the Gabrieli recording on Archiv, a wonderful performance that attempts to present the work as it would have been done at the funeral of Empress Maria. However, having fallen in love with the Westminster Choir/Hill recording of Victoria's Missa O Quam Gloriosum I've been snapping up all available Victoria recordings by them, including their performance of the Requiem, and I have to say I'm stunned by it. There's a passion and fervour that's absolutely appropriate for this music and leaves you emotionally spent.
At the risk of dragging this thread slightly off topic, two more observations.
Having now gone through much of Victoria's recorded oeuvre, I'm amazed at how varied it is. Each mass is a world of its own and totally different from the rest, some joyful and celebratory others contemplative and spiritual. I've yet to come across a dud. Works like the incredibly beautiful Tenebrae Responses are different again. For me his music is currently providing the richest treasure trove I've discovered in years.
In the course of digging through it, I had an interesting exchange with the excellent people at Hyperion. Too bad there isn't a way of communicating off-forum on this site because I think you'd be interested in the details, which I'm not about to post here. The bottom line is that contrary to all the claims you'll find scattered through the internet, there hasn't yet been a recording of the earlier Requiem, the 1583 Missa Pro Defunctis. Having established that, Hyperion is looking into fixing it.
Good for you, re. the picture! I can think of other captions but most would transgress forum guidelines. Last time I tried to post a graphic on here I couldn't make it work. Can you share the secret?
Mark, your timely post on the Victoria Requiem has coincided with my acquisition of the 10CD set of Victoria choral works that recently appeared (and won a Gramophone ‘Award’.
I suppose most of us have viewed Victoria above all for his two most famous works, this Requiem (published in 1605) and the Responsories for Tenebrae (1585). In his notes for the Hyperion recording of the latter, Bruno Turner writes of these works that they “are recognised as supreme works of the last phase of what we call Renaissance polyphony. Their intensity of expression and concentrated anguish have also influenced, somewhat unduly, our view of the composer, overshadowing his serene and joyous music for the countless happy festivals of the Church.”
Neither of these two works appear in the new Archiv Box, which therefore nicely complements the recordings of the Requiem Mass (and of the Tenebrae Responsories). The box does however include Victoria’s earlier (1583) setting of the Requiem Mass (sorry Tagalie but it is definitely included!), as well as the Lamentations (which, together with the Tenebrae Responsories are part of the Holy Week Matins liturgy). I think both of these are first recordings (unless anyone knows otherwise?). The Archiv box is a really treasury of wonderful music: I second everything you say about the music, Tagalie, and also would add that fine though the Archiv performances are, wherever I have duplicates from Westminster Cathedral there is no contest.
Listening through much of this (Archiv) set (I still haven’t heard it all) show just how right Bruno Turner was. Those two masterworks really do stand apart from the rest of Victoria’s output. The late Requiem Mass has an intense austerity that is largely absent even from Victoria’s earlier setting. Of the recordings I have, the intensity is screwed up almost unbearably in the earliest (St. John’s College Choir), and almost as much in Westminster Cathedral Choir’s recording (Hyperion). It must be partly to do with the sound of the English boy choristers. Westminster’s feeling for Victoria’s music is palpable. I have another recording, again with boys, this time Spanish singers from the Abbey of Montserrat (DHM). Less intense, more austere, darker in timbre. They make a fascinating contrast.
By the way does anyone have any idea what musical forces were involved in the original performances. I have not been able to find anything.
PS: Mark, please do share with us how to add an image to a post! I can't do it either!
Thanks Tagalie - the compliment is returned! I have been taking a break with forum fatigue...
Fascinating Tagalie (and Chris) - many thanks. You guys are definitely inspiring me to explore Victoria some more! Sorry I didn't mention the recording was The Sixteen on Coro SACD. The surround sound wasn't particularly noticeable on my state of the art set-up of JVC headphones plus JVC ghetto blaster plus settee!
It's a wonderful work - the harmonies seem to merge and melt into each other. Put me in mind of Lennon's Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream (Tomorrow Never Knows on the Revolver album).
The graphic - yes I had a few problems with it. I think I cut and pasted it from the net onto a word document then cut and pasted again from there. That famous picture is in colour but I couldn't get it to work with the colour image.
I had originally thought of posting that image as a caption competition! Another obvious caption is:
European Champions' League Final:Cambrai 0 Antwerp 1 (AET)
'It was a yard offside...!'
Mark and Tagalie, it's good to see you posting on here again. I think a certain sense of fatigue has infected most of the sensible posters one used to read on here, and I'm sure there'll be a general consenus as to why that has happened.
I have been listening to quite a bit of Thomas Tallis lately, so your Victoria recommendations are going to spur me to give him a break for a while and conncentrate on the latter.
Thanks JKH. Glad to see you're still here also. What's happened to Vic? I know he's fond of Victoria's music as well.
An interesting quotation I've just found:
'Victoria confined himself to church music, but within this field he ranks equal to Palestrina for the polished beauty of his style...Much of the music of this volume (the Office of Holy Week 1585) displays a mystical passion which has been compared with that of the writings of St. John of the Cross; it appears in the rich harmonies of his polyphony, which are often more tonal in their orientation than even Palestrina's. Moreover, his use of chromatic harmonies lies in the direction of what later periods called 'passing modulations' rather than sudden chordal contrasts. Another striking characteristic is the use of repeated notes...to stress the importance of a word. The well-known motet O Vox Omes contains many examples of this practice'. (The author also points out that this was a technique used by Monteverdi).
I'm glad I saw this because the passing modulations might be what I thought as I say were harmonies merging into one another...
The passage comes from Anthony Milner in 'The Late Renaissance' section from The Pelican Guide to Music vol. 2 'Renaissance and Baroque' (a recent lucky find for me in a secondhand bookshop!) A fairly old book published in 1963 and reprinted a few times - 1971.
(Milner himself was a composer and I have his First Symphony on Hyperion vinyl but that's the only recording of his I have ever come across. Decent enough stuff. I believe he was honoured by Pope John Paul 11 for his services to Catholic Church music. The sleeve notes on that album say that he was working on a book about the history of Catholic Church music - don't know if it was actually published or not. Never seen it anywhere).
You are all welcome to this Victoria mania. For such a charismatic figure and inspired composer, it is wholly justified.
For his Requiem of 1605 (the Officium Defunctorum), there is an abundance of very competitive recordings. Some have already mentioned. The most recent, collected enough accolades, is the one with Collegium Vocale Gent under P. Herreweghe, on his label PHI. A bit older but equally impressive is the one on Signum, with Tenebrae under Nigel Short. Then, there are the Classics of the Sixteen under H. Christophers (the only one in SACD) and the one with the Tallis Scholars under P. Philips, on Gimell. All of them are excellent recordings and almost (all) brilliant performances.
By the way, the obscure and tiny label Lauda released in July a great "First" including some unheard music by Victoria: "La fiesta de Pascua en Piazza Navona". It is the Easter celebrations in the Piazza Navona, one of the most vivid public festivities during the time of Spanish dominance over Italy. This Double CD covers a never before presentation of the music that possibly have been heard in the church and around this significant square. It brings together an abundance of varied selection of vocal and instrumental pieces by composers who, together with Victoria, composed for the occasion (Palestrina etc.). More than a curiosity. Lovely, wonderful music, in an extremely good production.
After Victoria, Pierre De la Rue and Eustache Du Caurroy may be discovered, since they constitute the significant predecessors of Victoria and they produced two of the most important Requiems in the 15th-16th century along with the newly rediscoverd (thanks to Hyperion) Richafort.