Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Requiem

Seattle's associate conductor is getting good reviews for her leadership of a trio of Mozart's late works.  Among them, Mozart's Requiem.

I have no doubt the requiem was played beautifully.  However, for me nothing beats the performance that accompanies the mass for All Soul's Days at St. James Cathedral.

As the cathedral for the Arch Diocese of Seattle, St. James takes its music very seriously.  In addition, to staging and performing Mozart's Requiem each year, they also routinely perform other choral works.  As I have mentioned before, St. James music department will also be doing Dvorak's Stabat Mater and Messiaen's Trois petites Liturgies de la Présence Divine.  In the recent past, they have performed works by RVW and nearly all of Bruckner's numbered and unnumbered Masses. 




In every way, if one were to experience these works in any concert hall in America performed by a competently lead orchestra, the music would undoubtedly be pristine.  For me, however, the profundity of the music would be lost.  Music often composed in reverence of or in service to God requires more than just a run of the mill performance. 

Consider the Stabat Mater - a Roman catholic poem of Mary's inconsolable grief during and after the crucifixion of her only son Jesus.  Consider also that Dvorak's own Stabat Mater was composed as he tried to cope and understand the death of his three children. 

There is no doubt the music, performed or heard by itself is of considerable weight.  However, put that same music in an equally weighty spiritual or religious settling and its force is only magnified.  At St. James everything - from the religious representational art to the structure itself yearns for a deeper understanding of and connection to God.  How could the music's impact not be magnified?      

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