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Going against the general direction of my own comments on this thread, the Mozart requiem is one those pieces that just seem to demand the full orchestration: so much of it is embodied in the mournful darkness of the sound - the basset horns, trombones and bassoons.........
Having said that, a version for string quartet may well the best way for amateur choirs to have a crack at it. More interesting, perhaps, than an organ or some other keyboard.
Lichtenthal was a sort of disciple of Mozart. He transcribed a good deal of his Master's works mostly for Chamber Music forces, out of which, only recently the Requiem one for String Quartet came to the fore.
Kuijken, in his recording, assumes that Lichtenthal's "point of departure must have been Sussmayr's completion of the work". Kuijken let us know that he made "few adjustments" too. He also inform us that Lichtenthal had intervened, in some points, in the score. Therefore, Kuijkwen had to "polish" Lichtenthal's outcome
At the end of the day, Kuijken admits that the String Quartet version reproduces no more than the "skeleton" of the music, but it retains the "eloquence of Mozart's music".
From my side, I want to reiterate that Lichtenthal's score is quite idiomatic for the medium, allowing the String Quartet members to "shine" throughout. For that reason, it is worth indulging in this version, overlooking for awhile the grandeur of the original.
One of the very few exceptions, where the reduction became a classic, while the original remained less performed, is Haydn's Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross. Originally composed as an Orchestral work. Then, the composer "reduced" it to a String Quartet version, which is now the most popular, performed and appreciated, since it constitutes one of the most idiomatic, superb and of great scope composition for the medium. Later, he "expanded" it to a Choral work, in the form of an Oratorio, while in between he approved a most reduced version for the Fortepiano. While all of them are masterpieces, only the String Quartet is the most idiomatic and unique as a musical statement. There are plenty of very good recordings of the String Quartet version (I prefer the rather recent one of the Prazaks) vis a vis the ones for the other forces.
Yes, I'd completely forgotten about the Seven Last Words. The quartet "reduction" is an absolute masterpiece of the very highest order. I've got the piano version (John McCabe), but I've always thought it sounds a little naked, a little sparse in places. I usually listen to the Kuijken performance of the quartet.....
Not sure if "delightful" is an effective Mozart requiem, but Liszt's transcription of "Lachrymosa" for me is slightly more effective than the "Confutatis".
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