2. Nocturne by Dobrinka Tabakova
A soothing beautiful nocturne.
1. Requiem in D Minor, K. 626 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
In 1791, Mozart was penniless, in poor health, out of fashion, and believed he had been poisoned and was on the verge of death.
“I have formed during the last few years such close relationships with this best and truest friend of mankind that death’s image is not only no longer terrifying to me, but is indeed very soothing and consoling”(source)
This was Mozart’s frame of mind when writing his Requiem, having been commissioned by Count Franz von Walsegg to commemorate his wife’s death. The work has indeed terrifying but beautiful chorus sections intermingled with comforting songs, but check out Zadie Smith’s description of the work before listening to it to get the perfect picture of what this Requiem is all about.
Considering the controversy surrounding the composition of the work (how much of it is Mozart, how much is Süssmayr – his pupil who finished the score) and the substantial amount of recordings out there, it can be daunting to choose a performance, so I tried to narrow down the options. Starting from this set of 8 recommendations, I focused on Lacrimosa, listened only to that segment and picked three versions to fully listen: no. 5 – John Eliot Gardiner (IDAGIO), no. 7 – Sergiu Celibidache (IDAGIO) and no. 8 – Georg Solti (IDAGIO).
Celibidache’s version is known to be one of the slowest, Gardiner is at the opposite end with the shortest version, while Solti is right in the middle with a more balanced view. Out of the three, Gardiner’s was my least favourite, the rapid tempo taking away from the emotional impact. I couldn’t make up my mind between the other two, mainly because when it came to the chorus sections I definitely preferred the slower Celibidache. However, his version was much too slow for the Soprano, Alto, Bass and Tenor sections, so I like those better in Solti’s version (plus he has the better soloists). Concerning Lacrimosa, the Celibidache one was my favourite by far: the slow tempo increases the tension and gives you a more gratifying release. Overall, I think I enjoyed Celibidache’s version the most, it made me feel all the feelings, with Solti very closely behind.
Bonus: a different version than the standard one by Süssmayr, this one being completing by Levin.
Disclaimer: this is not an exhaustive list of all the works curated by Clemency Burton-Hill in the book Year of wonder: classical music for every day. To enjoy the full catalogue of pieces proposed by the author along with her comments on the composers and the music itself, feel free to pick up her awesome book here (not affiliated, nor sponsored).