Category Archives: Classical Music

Van Cliburn’s legacy will be that of a musical ambassador…

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I was saddened to learn of the passing away of Van Cliburn this week.  If it were not for him, I may have never taken up playing the piano.  His victory at the 1958 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition launched him into “Rock Star” status immediately.  He is still the only “Classical” musician who has ever had a New York City ticker tape parade.  The album you see above was the first classical LP to ever go platinum.  So if you own a copy, especially an early copy like my copy, you own a historically important LP, even if it is not a rare LP.

He was born in 1934 in Shreveport, Louisiana, but moved to Kilgore, Texas in 1941.  His dad was in the Oil & Gas business and his mother was a piano teacher.  My Dad and I knew a very talented pianist in Dallas named Newel Oller.  He grew up in Kilgore with Van Cliburn.  His claim to fame was that he finish second in every piano contest he entered because Van always finished first.  My Piano teacher and her son were close friends of Van and his mother.  I never met him, however, I did see him perform live twice.  Both times he played the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No 1 with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

Van lived in Texas so long that we claimed him as a native.  At the age of 13 he debuted with the Houston Symphony Orchestra.  In 1954 he graduated from High School and enrolled at The Julliard School in New York City.  In 1954 he won the Levintritt Award which included a debut with the New York Philharmonic.  Then in 1958 (the year I was born) he made history.

It is impossible to communicate exactly how stunning his victory in Moscow was.  It was like “The Miracle on Ice” in the 1980 Olympics, when the USA defeated the Soviet Union in hockey.  No American had even come close to winning a major international piano competition.  The United States was considered a backwater of classical music talent.  All the great musicians were born in and trained in Europe.  This was at the height of the cold war.  The cold war was so cold that the jury had to get Nikita Khrushchev’s direct permission to award the prize to Van Cliburn.  He was easily the crowds favorite. After he performed his concerto he received an 8 minute standing ovation.   What set him apart was his more deliberate pace that he took with the music.  In that time people had fallen in love with technical excellence and there was a lot of fast and loud playing.  Van took the time to make music.

He returned to America in triumph.  He appeared on the cover of “Time” magazine.  I love this quote from the Time magazine article describing him as  “The first man in history to be a Horowitz, Liberace, and Elvis Presley all rolled into one.”

In 1962 fans of Van Cliburn in Fort Worth, Texas organized “The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition“.  There is now an Amateur Piano Competition in addition to the main competition.  I entered the amateur competition a few years ago, but was not accepted.  I need to hire a teacher again and practice more. The Van Cliburn competition has done much for international good will.  It’s value cannot be overstated.  This May will mark the 14th quadrennial competition.  The Cliburn is one of the premiere competitions in the world.

Van Cliburn put classical piano playing on the map in the United States.  He caused numerous people to take up the challenge of playing the Piano.  His victory and fame caused my mother and father to encourage me to take up the hobby.  I never dreamed where it would ultimately lead me.

So my condolences to Van Cliburn’s friends and relatives, as well as music lovers everywhere.  The great ambassador of music has left us, but his music and his legacy will never fade.

Here it is in its entirety.  One of the most famous classical LP’s of all time.  The first classical LP to go platinum.  Van Cliburn, Kirill Kondrashin (Who was the conductor in Moscow during the competition)  and The RCA Symphony Orchestra.

First Movement

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Second Movement

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Third Movement

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The performance still resonates today and has inspired countless people to take up playing the piano, including yours truly…

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Posted in Classical Music, Life Events, Vinyl | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

A Tribute to Gustav Mahler…

Album cover of Das Lied von der Erde

Yesterday was the 101st anniversary of the death of Gustav Mahler (1860 – 1911). Mahler was one of the greatest composers of all time. He is also one of my favorite composers. I am sure more people don’t know who he was than do know who he was, but what everyone should know is how important he is in the history of western music. Gustav Mahler ushered in the modern era of music. His influence can still be heard today in music as diverse as John Williams film music (E.T., Star wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, etc…) to Neil Young. (I have an idea for a blog I want to write called “Neil Young, Gustav Mahler and the Dirge). I’m sure Neil Young doesn’t think his music is influenced by Mahler but I can hear it clearly in many of his songs.

The music I have chosen to post in tribute to Mahler is the powerful song-cycle Das Lied von der Erde. (The Song of the Earth). This composition was one of the last works Mahler completed. His last complete work was his Ninth Symphony. His tenth symphony was on his work desk, with only the first movement completely fleshed out, when he died. Mahler never heard Das Lied von der Erde performed, nor did he ever hear his 9th Symphony performed. Das Lied was premiered by Bruno Walter on November 20th 1911. Bruno Walter was a student of Mahler.

Mahler was a very famous man in his time, but he was better known for his conducting than his compositions. He was probably the greatest conductor of his time. His principle occupation was being the conductor of the Vienna State Opera. Mahler virtually invented the modern concert experience by codifying the etiquette of the concert experience. He invented the concept of Opera direction and set design. He started the classical music tradition of not allowing late comers to enter the concert hall during a performance. He began the disintegration of tonality.

He had a tragic life, but ultimately he triumphed over his grief. This composition is a beautiful example of how he lifted himself from tragedy to triumph.

Das Lied von der Erde is really a symphony. (It was sub-titled by Mahler “Symphony for Contralto and Tenor Voices and Large Orchestra). Mahler was superstitious about composing a 9th symphony because Beethoven died after he composed his 9th symphony. Although this composition requires a large orchestra, the entire orchestra is used sparingly. Many times the music takes on an almost chamber music style. In addition, there are part of the composition where the vocalist seems to be accompanying an instrumental solo instead of the reverse. The song cycle is made up of 6 different movements. The lyrics are derived from ancient Chinese poetry. Some of the poems were used as they were originally written and some of the poems are combinations of two different poets, and Mahler himself added some lines of his own devising. I have included translations of the lyrics because the songs are all sung in German.

This performance is by Bernard Haitink and the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam. The Tenor is James King and the Mezzo-soprano is Janet Baker. One of the reasons I chose this performance is because Mahler actually conducted the Concertgebouw orchestra for a period of time. And now, Das Lied von der Erde

1. “Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde” (The Drinking Song of the Sorrow of the Earth)

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The main feature of this movement is the repeating of the phrase “Dunkel ist das Leben, ist das Tod.” (Dark is life, is death). Each time the phase is repeated it is pitched slightly higher than before.

Here is the translation of the poem:

The wine already winks from the golden goblet, but do not drink yet – first I’ll sing you a song! The song of sorrow shall burst out in laughter in your soul. When sorrow draws nigh, the gardens of the soul lie wasted, both joy and song wither away. Dark is life, is death.

Master of this house! Your cellar holds the wealth of golden wine! Here, this lute shall be mine! Strumming the lute and draining the glass – these are things which belong together. A full wine-goblet at the right moment is worth more than all the riches of this world! Dark is life, is death.

The firmament is forever blue, and the earth will long remain and blossom into spring. But you, fellow man, how long do you live? Not even for a hundred years may you take your delight in all the false trifles of this world!

Look down there! On the moonlit graves squats a ghostly, bestial figure. It’s an ape! Listen t his howls piercing through the sweet fragrance of life!

Now drink the wine! Now is the time, comrades! Drain your golden goblets to the bottom! Dark is life, is death…

2. Der Einsame Im Herbst (The Lonely Man in Autumn)

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The second song is softer and quieter than the first. Note how chamber music like the scoring is.

A blue autumn mist hovers over the lake; all the grass-blades are striped with frost; one would think an artist had strewn jade-dust over the delicate blossoms.

The sweet fragrance of the flowers has been blown away; a cold wind has bent their stems down. Soon the withered, golden lotus leaves will shift about on the water.

My heart is weary. my little lamp went out with a hiss, reminding me of sleep. I am coming to you, beloved resting-place! Yes, give me peace – I need to be refreshed!

I weep much in my loneliness; autumn has lasted too long in my heart. Sun of love, will you never shine again, and gently dry my bitter tears?

This poem is so obviously about the death of Mahler’s eldest daughter. She died after a brief illness. The line “My little lamp went out with a hiss…” is almost too sad to bear…

3. Von Der Jugend (Of Youth)

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Note in this movement the extensive use of Our western musical scale consists of 8 notes.

In the middle of the small pond stands a pavilion made of green and with porcelain.

Like a tiger’s back, the bridge forms an arch of jade stretching to the pavilion.

In the little house friends sit, well-dressed, drinking, chatting; some are writing down verses.

Their silken sleeves glide back, their silken caps perch merrily on the backs of their heads.

On the quiet surface of the pond everything appears marvelously in mirror image.

Everything turned upon its head in the pavilion made of green and withe porcelain;

Like a half-moon stands the bridge, its arch inverted. Friends, well-dressed, drink and chatter.

4. Von Der Schonheit (Of Beauty)

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Young girls pick flowers, pick lotus blossoms form the bank. They sit among bushes and leaves, collecting blossoms in their laps and teasing each other.

The golden sun dapples the figures, reflects them in the smooth water. The sun reflects their slender limbs, their charming eyes, and the caressing breeze lifts up the fabric of their sleeves, carries the magic of the fragrance through the air.

O, look, what handsome youths exercise their horses near the water, gleaming far and bright as sunbeams, already the sportive ones are trotting in between the green willow branches!

The horse of one of them neighs gaily, shies and dashes away; moving over flowers and grass, the giddy hooves, like a storm, heedlessly crush the drooping blossoms. Ha! How his mane flutters in a frenzy, how steamy the breath from his nostrils!

Golden sunlight dapples the figures, reflects them in the smooth water. And the most beautiful of the maidens sends longing glances in his direction. Her proud bearing is only fluff. In the sparkle of her wide eyes, in the darkness of her heated glance, the excitement of her heart still vibrates in lament.

5. Der Trunkene Im Fruhling (The Drunkard in Spring)


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This movement acts as the Scherzo of the symphony. Note the constantly shifting rhythms

If life is only a dream, what good are cards and worries!? I drink until I can no more, the whole day long!

And when I can drink no more, when body and soul are full, then I stagger to my doorway and sleep marvelously!

What do I hear upon awakening? Listen! A bird is singing in the tree, I ask him if it is already spring – to me it seems like a dream,

The bird twitters: Yes! Spring is here; it came overnight! Roused form inward gazing I hear the bird singing and laughing!

I fill my goblet once again and drain it dry and sing until the moon shines out form the pitch-black sky!

And when i can sing no longer, I fall asleep again; what do I care about spring!? let me be drunk!

6. Der Abschied (The Farewell)

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Der Abschied is easily one of the most beautiful pieces I have ever heard. This is highly emotional and intensely personal music. The composer lays his soul bare to the world. After Mahler finished Das Lied von der Erde, he showed it to his friend and student Bruno Walter. He said ” This is surely the most personal thing I have ever written.” The he showed Walter this last movement “Der Abschied”. He asked “Can this be endured at all? Surley the people will kill themselves afterwards?” i think I know what he meant…

The tempo is marked “Without regard for Tempo” . It is very difficult to conduct because of all the cadenza’s for the vocalist and instrumental soloist. The movement is almost as long as the other 5 movements combined. The last lines are added by Mahler himself and it turns all of this sorrow into happiness. “Everywhere the good earth once more greens and blossoms into spring. Everywhere, forever, distant spaces shine light blue! Forever…forever

The last word is repeated over and over, quieter, and quieter until the last word is “imprinted on the atmosphere” as the composer Benjamin Britten beautifully described it.

The sun departs behind the mountains. Evening descends upon the valleys with its cool, refreshing shadows. O look! The moon, like a silver barque, glides upward on the sky’s blue sea. I notice a slight breeze blowing behind the dark fir-trees!

The stream sings melodiously through the darkness. The flowers turn pale in the twilight. The earth breathes a deep tranquility; now all longing wants to dream. Weary people make their way home, to learn once more in sleep forgotten happiness and youth! The birds perch quietly on the branches. The world falls asleep!

A cool breeze blows in the shade of my fir-trees. I stand here in wait of my friend; I wait to bid him a last farewell. O friend, I long to relish the beauty of the evening at your side. Where do you tarry? You leave me so log alone! I wander to and fro with my lute on paths swollen with soft grass. O beauty! Flush with love, with life unending – O drunken world!

He alighted from his horse and offered his friend the drink of farewell. He asked him where he was heading and why it had to be so. He spoke – his voice was muffled; My friend, fortune has not favored me in this world! Where am I going? I go wandering now in the mountains. I seek peace for my lonely heart. I wander to my homeland, my abode. I will never roam in the distance. My heart is quiet and awaits its hour! Everywhere the good earth once more greens and blossoms into spring. Everywhere, forever, distant spaces shine light blue.

Forever…forever…

 

 

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Dallas Symphony performance of Bruckner’s 8th Symphony is breathtaking!

Sunday April 29th I attended the Dallas Symphony’s performance of the Bruckner 8th Symphony.  I was really excited to hear this piece performed live.  It is a magnificent symphony.  It is not performed very often because of it’s length, (over 70 minutes depending on the version performed) it’s complexity, and the massive size of the orchestra required to perform it.  The symphony is scored for  3 flutes (third doubling piccolo), three oboes, three clarinets, three bassoons, eight french horns (four doubling on Wagner tubas), three trumpets, alto, tenor and bass trombones, contra bass tuba, timpani, and a full complement of strings.  The Scherzo and Adagio movements also include 3 harps, triangle and cymbals.  Needless to say, the stage was crammed full of musicians.  We are very fortunate in Dallas to have one of the best conductors in the world as our conductor.  Jaap Van Zweden was just voted Conductor of the Year by Musical America for 2012!  I was even more interested to hear this performance because Van Zweden has just recorded this symphony with The Netherlands Radio Philharmonic for Octavia Records.  Mr. Van Zweden is currently recording the entire cycle of Anton Bruckner Symphonies.

One of the first things a conductor has to decide before he can conduct a Bruckner Symphony is which version?  Anton Bruckner was notorious for revising his work. There are two or three versions of almost all of his nine symphonies.  A total of 26 versions exist for his nine symphonies.   He was not a very confident person and was very reactive to criticism from peers that he respected.    There are 3 versions of the Bruckner 8th.  In this case Jaap Van Zweden chose the last version which was revised by Bruckner and two of his students Joseph and Franz Schalk.  It is the opinion of Maestro Van Zweden that the Bruckner 8th was the only symphony that was improved by the alterations.  This version was completed in 1980.  The symphony was debuted in Vienna on December 18, 1892 with Hans Richter conducting. This symphony is unique in the cannon of Bruckner symphonies for a couple of reasons.  First of all, it is the only Bruckner Symphony to include harps and second, it is the only Bruckner symphony that the Scherzo precedes the Adagio movement.

When I say this symphony is massive, I mean it is massive!  The last two movements are each over 30 minutes long.

If you are not familiar with the music of Anton Bruckner, think about the sound of the music of Richard Wagner.  Bruckner idolized Wagner and worshiped his orchestral techniques.  But that’s where the similarity ends.  Wagner was a hedonistic, atheist and an antisemitic.  Bruckner was a devout Roman Catholic and very spiritually centered in his personal beliefs.  He composed an enormous amount of music for Catholic church services in addition to his nine symphonies.  His love of God infuses his music.

The symphony No. 8 in C minor starts out in a whispering  tremolo in the strings, much like the Beethoven 9th.  Bruckner’s  music spins out in very long, slowly developing phrases.  The first thing that stuck me about the DSO’s performance is how beautifully Jaap led the orchestra and audience through these long beautiful phrases.  His vision of this symphony is beautifully clear.  Consequently, he made this normally complex, difficult composition stunningly easy to follow and comprehend.  What an amazing achievement!

We are also fortunate to have a world class concert hall in Dallas.  The McDermott Concert Hall at the Meyerson Symphony Center seemed to have been built for Bruckner.  This state of the art hall can actually be tuned to the type of music being performed.  The hall has an Acoustic canopy panel that can be raised and lowered as well as tilted to create various complementary environments for sound.  In addition the hall has reverberation chambers that can be adjusted  based on the amount of reverberation the conductor requires.  For this performance the canopy was raised as high as it could go and the reverberation chambers were opened all the way.  This created a cathedral like environment for the performance.  Bruckner was an organist by training and most of his music was greatly influenced by the sound of an organ.  The Bruckner 8th has several massive climaxes.  As the mighty crashes of the full orchestra occurred, the ambient tail of the music was breathtaking.  (When you think of ambient tail think of echo.)  The sound would literally hang in the air for  amazingly long times and Mr. Van Zweden would take full advantage of this effect.   It was a breathtaking!

This performance was nothing short of stunning.  As the finale came to it’s dramatic conclusion, the audience sprang to their feet in a totally spontaneous standing ovation that went on for 15 minutes.  70 plus minutes went by in the blink of an eye.  I was totally blown away by the vision of the conductor and the fabulous playing of the Dallas Symphony.  What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  I for one am going to acquire the newly issued recording of this symphony my Maestro Van Zweden.  Congratulations to Jaap Van Zweden and the Dallas Symphony.  And how lucky am I to live in a city where I can experience a world class musical event like this!

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Mostly Mozart on Good Friday

What a music month April was for me. I got to see a live performance of the Beethoven 9th and then on Good Friday I got to see a live performance of the Mozart Requiem! My friend John A and his son Jim A (of the Polk audio event) asked me to attend their Church Concert on Good Friday. Jim performs in the Choir. The Concert consisted of a performance of the Albinoni Adagio in G -Minor, the Mozart Requiem, and Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus, K. 618. The church had hired an entire orchestra in order to perform these compositions.

The evening started with the Albinoni Adagio. This is a very beautiful and quiet piece. It is scored for solo violin, strings and organ. The adagio has a haunting melody that floats over the quiet muted sound of the organ. The piece builds to a climax that leads into a highly emotional and beautiful cadenza from the first violin. The first violin’s solos were just fantastic. She is quite a good musician. The entire adagio was admirably performed with quiet dignity and introspection, setting up the reverent atmosphere for the performance of the Requiem.

Although this piece is attributed to Albinoni, it is largely the work of his 20th century biographer, Remo Gizaotto. Remo found a small fragment of the composition in the Saxon State Library in Dresden, Germany shortly after the end of World War II. The Library had been destroyed in the Fire Bombing of Dresden but the staff had already evacuated and preserved most of its collection. It is believed that the fragment was a portion of Albinoni’s Sonata de Chiesa Opus 4 written around 1709.  I think it is an interesting programing choice because it is really an unfinished composition that was finished by someone other than the composer; just as Mozart’s Requiem was finished by his student, Sussmayr.

The Mozart Requiem is one of the true masterpieces of music.  It is scored for 4 Soloist, Choir, I and II Violins, Viola, Cello, Bass, 2 Basset Horns, 2 Bassoons, 2 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, Timpani, and Organ.  The entire evening was directed by Jody Lindh, who is the director of music ministries for the University Park United Methodist Church.  Two soloist were from the SMU school of music and two were from the church choir.

This composition is extremely challenging to professional singers let alone a church choir and student soloists.  But this group was up to the challenge. Each soloist did a great job.  I thought the standouts were the soprano, Tiffany Roberts Silva and the baritone, Ken Carroll.  The orchestra played flawlessly, and choir was extremely well rehearsed for the occasion.  There were a few ragged moments and some phrases were not ended as cleanly as they could have been and you could occasionally hear the strain on the choir in some of the more difficult parts, but overall it was a magnificent effort!  The Director, Jody Lindh had the right mix of forward looking Romantic era emotion and structured Classical era restraint.  At the request of the music director, applause was reserved until the completion of the Ave Verum Corpus, K. 618.  This was probably because of Easter and the need to celebrate the resurrection, not just remember the death or Jesus Christ.

Congratulations to all involved in this moving ceremony on Good Friday!

PART II

I thought this was a great opportunity to blog about the controversy surrounding the composing of the Mozart Requiem.  The controversy has even become more fueled by the romanticized fantasy of the play and movie Amadeus.  How much of the Mozart Requiem is Mozart’s own work and how much had to be filled in by Sussmayr?

Sussmayr claimed to have written the last three movements in their entirety. (Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus dei, Communion).  Hmm….

Let’s go back and revisit the history.  In the summer of 1791a mysterious messenger came to Mozart with a commission to compose a Requiem Mass.  Mozart, being in difficult financial straits and failing health accepted the offer.  He was already very busy composing his last two operas:  The Magic Flute, and La Clemanza di Tito. The operas overwhelmed his task to write the Requiem so he set it aside to complete the two operas.  In September of 1791 he began anew the effort to complete the Requiem, after another visit came from the mysterious messenger.   In Mozart’s fragile physical condition he began to imagine that the commission from the mysterious visitor was from the other world and that the Requiem was for himself.  It turned out to be from Count Franz von Walsegg, who wanted to remain anonymous because he intended to pass the work off as his own composition in honor of his recently deceased wife.  A short distance from his home where he lay ill, The Magic Flute was having a very successful run.  Mozart worked as quickly as his failing health would allow.  Occasionally some of the cast would come over and sing through some of the portions of the Requiem.  The last time this happened was on December 4th, 1791.  Mozart sang the alto part and they got as far as the Lacrimosa.  Later that night he lapsed in to a comma and died the next day.  The Requiem was unfinished.

Constanze(Mozart’s wife) was left with many debts.  She desperately needed the money from the commission.  She turned to Josef Ebler, a local musician.  He felt he could not fulfill the task.  She appealed to Albrechtsberger and Stadler. (Albrechtsberger taught Beethoven and Stadler was one of Beethoven’s friends).  They could not or would not help.  As a last resort she turned to Mozart’s 25 year old student Franz Sussmayr.  Constanze stated that she gave Sussmayr all of the sketches that Mozart had left.  In addition, Sussmayr stated that on Mozart’s death bed he had carefully explained his intentions on completing the Requiem.  Sussmayr said that Mozart’s last breath was expended phrasing a drum passage.

The autograph manuscript contained only the completed Introit and Kyrie and the vocal parts and figured bass (a type of musical short hand) of the Dies Irae sequence (Movemetns II-VII) up to the 9th bar of the Lacrimosa.  The Offertory (Domine Jesu and Hostias) had only the vocal parts and figured bass.  Nothing has ever been found in Mozart’s own hand of the Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei.  This is one of the reasons that Sussmayr claimed that he had written these movements himself.  Constanze, who gave him what she described as “slips of paper” on which Mozart had written his ideas for the Requiem,  insisted that Sussmayr only did what anyone else could have done.

One thing is certain, the quality of the music far exceeds anything Sussmayr ever came up with before or after.  Was he really capable of echoing the masters voice so faithfully with any real guidance?  I doubt it.  This music is far too complex for a  mortal to have come up with.  The Requiem looks back to Bach while looking forward to Beethoven, Shubert, and Brahms.  Just as in the final Symphonies Mozart inserts amazing fugues and double fugues, summoning up the spirit of Bach.  But the emotional content is distinctly forward looking to the more emotional, expressive content of the Romantic era.

Sussmayr had two duties:  first he had to provide the Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei with the Communio.  He also had to score a lot of the Requiem.  Mozart chose the specialized scoring.  (Strings, organ, trumpets, drums, trombones, bassoons, and basset horns.)  The omission of flutes, oboes, and horns is carefully calculated to create a more austere and archaic tone and mood.

There is an alternate version of the Requiem that was produced by Franz Beyer, a professor of Music from Munich, Germany.  His goal was to restore the Requiem to it’s more pristine colours  and to correct the factual mistakes in the score.  He felt that Sussmayr had some very incorrect instrumental accompaniment and enriched harmonies that attempted to prettify the work instead of it’s more stark intention.  An obvious misrepresentation is in the Tuba Mirum where the trumpet continues to sound even after the dead are already called to Judgement.  Beyer extensively reworked the basset horns and trombones to bring it into line with   practice.  He fixes the tuba mirum trumpet miss-step.  He makes some small corrections to the vocal lines, the dynamic marks and tempi indications and adds an extra cadence to fix the fore shortened Osanna fugues.

I offer to you now both versions of the Requiem.  The original Sussmayr (the version I heard on Good Friday) and the newer Beyer edition.  The Sussmayr is performed by Bruno Walter and the New York Philharmonic and the Beyer edition performed by the The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields conducted by Neville Marriner.  I am placing the movements side by side so that you can more easily compare them.

The Neville Marriner -Beyer perfomance is my own LP and the Bruno Walter-Sussmayr performance is an LP I borrowed from my brother Joe.

So is the Requiem written by Mozart or not?  My opinion is the same as Beethoven.  When Beethoven was asked about the Mozart Requiem he said, “If Mozart did not write this music, then the man who wrote it was a Mozart!”  Sounds almost like a Yogi Berra comment doesn’t it?


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Marriner – Beyer Edition Introitus –Requiem

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Marriner – Beyer Edition Kyrie

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Walter -Sussmayr Edition Introitus and Kyrie

It is interesting that Walter envisions the first two movements as one movement.  He leads the orchestra directly into the Kyrie without pause.  Marriner makes sure to signal that they are separate movements.

 

 

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Marriner – Beyer Dies Irae


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Walter – Sussmayr Dies Irae

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Marriner – Beyer Tuba Mirum

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Walter – Sussmayr Tuba Mirum

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Marriner – Beyer Rex Tremendae Majestatis

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Walter Sussmayr Rex Tremendae Majestatis

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Marriner – Beyer Recordare

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Walter – Sussmayr Recordare

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Marriner – Beyer Confutatis

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Walter – Sussmayr Confutatis

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Marriner – Beyer Lacrimosa

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Walter – Sussmayr Lacrimosa

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Marriner – Beyer Domine Jesu

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Walter – Sussmayr Domine Jesu

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Marriner – Beyer Hostias

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Walter – Sssmayr Hostias

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Marriner – Beyer Sanctus

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Walter -Sussmayr Sanctus

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Marriner – Beyer Benedictus

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Walter – Sussmayr Benedictus

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Marriner – Beyer Agnus Dei

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Marriner – Beyer Communio

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Walter – Sussmayr Agnus Dei and Communio

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Once again Walter envisions the last two movements as one movement; where as Marriner envisions them as two distinct movements.

So what do you think?  Is the Requiem Mozart or Mozart/Sussmayr?  Which edition of the Requiem do you prefer?  Let me know your thoughts.  Personally, I prefer the Beyer edition.  I think it is more true to the intention of Mozart.  He did not want the Requiem to be Operatic. His intention was to look back to the time of Handel and Bach while looking forward to the highly emotional  Romantic era.  Any thoughts?

 

 

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Posted in Classical Music, Live Performance Reviews, Vinyl | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments