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Gloria Bruni
1955 -
Germany
Picture Picture
G. Bruni
Gloria Bruni -original name Brünhild ('Brüni') Ulonska- (1955), a female German composer from Oschersleben/Bode, who is also an accomplished singer and a professional violinist.
Author:Andrew Marr
Requiem a Roma
Period:21st century
Composed in:2000
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Duration:56'21''
Label(s):Arte Nova 74321 87066 2
The world premiere of this work took place on November 5, 2000 at St. Ignazio's Church in Rome as a benefit concert in aid of the Salesian Order for the "street children of the world." On the previous evening, the Kyrie and Sanctus were performed at the Vatican before Pope John Paul II who said that he was "deeply moved."
Gloria Bruni is a German-born composer who is also an accomplished singer and a professional violinist. Her deep familiarity with church music both as a singer and violinist inspired her to write a "Requiem" based "on deep religious feeling." As she has rearranged the portions of the requiem out of their normal liturgical order, I assume the work is designed for concert performance only. In this arrangement, the 'Dies Irae' forms the climax with the 'Pie Jesu' a codo. Bruni writes in a tonal vein with fully consonant harmonies and a dramatic force typical of music from the romantic period. It is, however, an austere work, heavily weighted to the minor mode, and its melodic content, some appealing touches notwithstanding, does not extend to any cozy melodies that have any chance of straying up into the Top Forty record charts like another contemporary requiem many of us know. The work is consistently solemn with few light touches to relieve its ponderousness. The treble soloist opens the work with a pleading 'Requiem aeternam'. The choir then enters, lower voices first, and then the soloist and choir answer each back and forth. The requiem is rounded off with the treble and the boys of the choir singing an uneasy 'Pie Jesu'. The choir is assigned a generous portion of the music while the two adult soloists heighten the drama with operatic singing and the treble offers a welcome contrast a couple of times. There is much power in the music and many touching instances, but there are a few times when the effect is hampered by awkward mannerisms. A rising arpeggio in the brass accompanied by a flurry of activity in the woodwinds that introduced the first 'Hosanna' had me thinking it was time for some magic fire to spring up on the stage. (In such a case, it is hard to discern whether the composer or the orchestrator gets the greater blame.) Occasionally a musical figure would seem to intrude into a space where it didn't belong.
I have no similar reservations about the performance itself, especially that by the singers. The choir from Poznan acquits itself very well, bringing sufficient vocal strength to cut through an orchestration that is quite heavy at times. Gloria Bruni is a talented dramatic soprano with such a wide range that I would not be surprised if for some future performances when the composer is not available, two singers might be required. A couple of times, the bass speaks the text with high amplification, with unfortunate results. (Whose idea was that?) When he sings, he sings effectively. The singing of Rafal Sekulak, a member of the Cathedral Choir, is the most attractive feature of this disc. He sings with much strength when required, demonstrating a mature voice, but he is just young enough (or sounds like it) to be effective as a vulnerable child in a hard world.
Gloria Bruni said of her requiem that it "presents death as a transition to an existence freed from care. The music must be gripping, but not mournful; it must give hope of the beyond, and thus reflect my present conception of death." This work comes across as hopeful provided it is not confused with serenity, of which it has hardly a trace. Hope, of course, is compatible with a feeling of uncertainty, a feeling that does come across much of the time, not least at the end. As the work lacks serenity, it also lacks the fire and brimstone found in requiems by the likes of Mozart and Verdi. Many listeners will likely find the confused attitudes towards death common to many people mirrored in the music.
Author:Andrew Marr
Picture
The first performance
of her requiem in Rome
was greatly accepted
by pope John Paul II.