Opera Scotland

Requiem in D minor, K626 1950Edinburgh International Festival

Read more about the opera Requiem, K626


Extract from Festival Preview

The Scotsman, Thursday 6 July (p6):

'Special arrangements have been made to bring the La Scala Orchestra and choir - together numbering between 260 and 270 persons - from Milan to Edinburgh by special train.

'In addition to the performance of the Mozart Requiem on September 8, and the Verdi Requiem on September 9, in the Usher Hall, it has been agreed, at the express wish of Victor de Sabata, and the La Scala management to give a performance of the Brahms Requiem, in the Usher Hall, on September 7, on which occasion the soloists will be Victoria de Los Angeles and Boris Christoff.  For the Verdi and the Mozart, the soloists will be the world-famous soprano, Renata Tebaldi;  Fedora Barbieri (mezzo-soprano)


The Scotsman verdict

This concert was reviewed in the Scotsman of Saturday,  9 September (p6):

'Last night the chorus and orchestra of La Scala, Milan, under Guido Cantelli  performed two important works, sacred in inspiration, and superficially secular in style,  Monteverdi's Magnificat and Mozart's Requiem.  The Magnificat was composed in 1610 and is an example of Monteverdi's skill in combining the old and the new styles of composition current in his period.

'It was also one of the first examples of an organised co-ordination of voices,  orchestra and organ.  The text is split into twelve sections, allowing for a wide range of contrasted effects,  achieved through variegated scoring,  and a texture partly polyphonic and partly operatic.

'Such a composition is a challenge to a chorus master, and a direct incitement to an ambitious editor.  The version heard last night was prepared by Ghedini,  who claims to have altered or supplanted nothing,  beyond replacing the cornetts by high-pitched clarinets, reinforced by oboes,  and by trumpets muted with cloths.  The dynamics and instrumental articulation are, however, a necessary contemporary addition.  Yet from studying Dr Rdelich's programme notes - he is the leading Mnteverdi authority in this country - there would seem to be considerable divergencies between his own version and that of Ghedini.

'Last night's transcription was arranged on a generous scale,  using broad quantities of sound,  whereas the original was, for the most part, on a far more modest level,  even allowing for Monteverdi's large resources.  Be that as it may, it was extremely effective as  music,  sung and played with true Italian fervour.  The organ registration hardly suggested Baroque tints,  but on the other hand,  with forces of the size of La Scala, and the inevitable differences in orchestral colour, it was an anachrnism that could be defended.

'The performance of Mozart's Requiem was interesting,  in places magnificent and elsewhere disconcerting.  It showed, too, that what can sweep an audience off its feet in Verdi may be less effective in Mozart, or Mozart-Süssmayr.  In straightforward chordal passages, such as ''Dies Irae'' the choir had that precision and urgency which is their trade-mark, but in the more fluid contrapuntal sections demanding complete purity of line,  the choir were less happy,  and appeared out of character.  Similarly in the fugues ''Kyrie Eleison'' and ''Cum sanctis Tuis,''  the chorus bumped along with four solid beats in the bar, like an old-fashioned choral society executing Handel.

'Mr Cantelli's tempi were fast, but on the whole justifiable, except in the case of the ''Benedictus,'' in which the legato phrases were too restless, spoiling the serene flow of the music.  Representing the best of the performance was the ''Agnus Dei''', ending with a superbly sung cadence ''dona eis requiem sempiternam''

Verdi's Requiem last Monday transcended all questions of operatic music, but Mozart's Requiem,  as sung by the chorus and soloists last night, acquired a theatrical flavour of unconvincing quality.

Performance DatesRequiem in D minor, K626 1950

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Usher Hall | Edinburgh

8 Sep, 20.00

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