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Maria Luigi Zenobio Carlo Salvatore Cherubini
1760 - 1842
Italy
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M.L.Z.C.S. Cherubini
Luigi Cherubini (14/09/1760 - 15/03/1842), an Italian composer (from Florence), belonging mainly to the French school. His artistic career may be divided into three periods:
1780-1791: operas, masses and motets
1791-1816: operas
1816-1842: sacred compositions.
Source: Grove’s dictionary of music and musicians
Requiem in C minor
Period:Early Romanticism
Composed in:1816
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Duration:ca.47'
In memory of:Louis XVI
Label(s):Hyperion CDA 66805
EMI 7243 5 68613 2 9
Hungaroton HCD 32041
This requiem ("König-Requiem) was written in 1816: it had been commissioned the previous year by the French government for the anniversary of the execution of Louis XVI on 21 January 1817. Posterity has a habit of elevating the obscure and neglecting the famous. Thus it is that Cherubini, hailed by Beethoven as 'the greatest living composer', is today often forgotten; 'If I were to write a requiem, Cherubini's would be my only model', Beethoven continued and the work was performed at his funeral in 1827. Schumann's opinion was that it was 'without equal in the world'. Berlioz considered that 'the decrescendo in the 'Agnus Dei' surpasses everything that has ever been written of the kind'. Cherubini was anxious to reflect the spirit as well as the meaning of the text and so, to avoid any unwelcome associations with opera, he decided to dispense altogether with soloists. It is a work of remarkable intensity, full of attractive choral and orchestral writing.
Cherubini's impressive work makes few concessions in the way of melodic charm or theatrical effect. Word-illustration is confined mainly to the offertory, where ‘the pains of hell’ and ‘the deep lake’ provoke shuddering demisemiquaver patterns on the orchestra, and ‘the fall into darkness’ is portrayed most movingly by broken phrases on male voices and strings descending to a solitary A in the bass.
Author:Steven Chang-Lin Yu
See also Bochsa and J.P.E. Martini.
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king Louis VXI
(dedicatee 24 years
after his death)
L. van Beethoven
(performed at his
funeral on 29/03/1827)
Requiem in D minor
Period:Early Romanticism
Composed in:1836
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Duration:40'29''
In memory of:the composer himself
Label(s):Deutsche Grammophon 457 744-2
EMI CDC 749301-2
London Digital Recording LDR 10034 (LP)
The Requiem in D minor, instead, was written in 1836. In 1834 the archbishop of Paris had objected to the use of the Requiem in C minor at a funeral, on the grounds that it contained female voices. Therefore, Cherubini decided to compose a new work for three-part male chorus and orchestra.
The 'Kyrie' starts off in a major tonality, but the orchestra postlude drives the music into a minor. Preceded by a gracious theme played by the violoncellos, the 'Graduale' is sung completely without any instrumental accompaniment pre-announced by a rapid ascending scale played by the higher sectors of the string instruments, the 'Dies irae' breaks out. For the first time the orchestral and vocal ripieno is heard, and the tutti effect is electrifying. During the entire duration of the movement, less lively pieces are alternated to dramatic and passionate outbursts; the final part, 'Pie Jesu' moves into a major tonality, but once again it is countered by the orchestra. The 'Offertorium' brings us back to the major key, this being a good example of Cherubini's typical ability to associate fully harmonic pieces with intensively chromatic ones. The 'Sanctus', also in major key, is even grander: the grand harmonic opening almost gives the feeling of a long chord in B flat major. The 'Pie Jesu', the most serene section of the work, takes us back into the minor key and to the "a cappella" style of the 'Gradual', but this time with brief inclusions of the woodwinds. The three-part beginning of the 'Agnus Dei' is touched on every time by the strings with an ascending chromatic scale, after which the music turns elsewhere to resume the atmosphere of the initial part of the work.
His equally fine, though more simple (than the 1816-work) Requiem in D minor, scored for male chorus and orchestra, is a purely liturgical work, intended for, and used at, his own funeral in 1842.
Author:Steven Chang-Lin Yu