BRUNO MADERNA (1920-1973): Requiem.
Catalogue Number: 01X048
Reference: STR 37180
Description: Not a world première recording, but a recording of the world première of a major early work, delayed by some sixty years, and thus an important document. Maderna wrote this powerful, deeply felt, hour-long setting of the full text of the Requiem Mass in 1946, immediately after his experiences in WWII, and shortly before his embrace of serialism; although there are no interpolated texts, it is impossible not to hear the work as a response to the war. He had high hopes of the work establishing his reputation, largely due to Virgil Thomson's enthusiasm for it, but failed to secure the expected performance, after which the score was lost. The composer may have failed to pursue its whereabouts due to the change in his style, and in any case it only re-emerged in 2006. The magnum opus of his pre-dodecaphonic period finds the young composer writing in a very tonal, though harmonically individual, idiom. Throughout the work there are many magically imaginative timbres and sonorities, reminding us that Maderna was an outstanding conductor with an impeccable ear for orchestration and tone color. It is clear that had he continued to be this kind of composer, rather than radically shifting direction, then he would still have been a remarkable one, though the history of the European avant-garde would have been very different without his incalculable contributions. The Requiem begins with an atmosphere of dignity and profound mourning. The extended Dies irae sequence, set in its entirety, is as apocalyptic as one might wish, with the presence of the bass drum and the dramatic character of the music and its impassioned vocal solos suggesting that the composer was looking back to Verdi, and the operatic approach to the concert requiem. The final sections, beginning with the exquisitely delicate Agnus Dei, sink progressively into the shadows of profound regret, echoing the sentiments of Wilfred Owen: "All a poet can do today is warn." The tormented closing Libera me - not for the first or last time the most terrifying part of a requiem setting - abandons all hope in a precipitous descent into the abyss. Carmela Remigio (soprano), Veronica Simeoni (mezzo), Mario Zeffiri (tenor), Simone Alberghini (bass), Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro La Fenice; Andrea Molino.