"Cherubini was the great master from whom everything had proceeded..." So said Brahms in 1896 - just after looking at the portrait of him he had in his Vienna apartment. I figured that this is a pretty good recommendation, so bought this CD.
Cherubini is pretty unknown nowadays, unfairly, in my view. This Naxos CD contains the 1816 Requiem in C minor and the Marche funebre from 1820, beautifully sung and played by some lengthily-titled Italians. Apt, as Cherubini was from Florence.
I'm not so religious myself, but enjoy this type of music as art. This is high art, and I can hear lots of Cherubini influence on Brahms (Berlioz was a fan, too), in his Deutsche Requiem, for example.
A distictive and overlooked voice, Cherubini is certainly worth trying at this price. Highly recommended.
on 10 October 2014
"Tom," Jacqueline Kennedy said to Thomas Cahill, "the Catholic Church is made up of a bunch of little men running around in black suits. But they understand death."
Indeed they do. The funerary rite is the Old Firm at its most impressive. It must have inspired Cherubini accordingly. This is his greatest work and by a wide margin. The further it proceeds, the more inspired it becomes, not least melodically. The Hostias and Pie Jesu are meltingly beautiful - and there's a direct alignment with the aspirations of the liturgy. Come the Agnus Dei, the work has assumed such proportions as to dwarf the original aim of sanctifying the soul of the kind-hearted, dim-witted Louis XVI as he ventured into the afterlife - it's now an obsequy for the multitude that perished in the Terror. It's deeply moving. The Marche funèbre, on the other hand, is a makeweight at best: it might serve as a requiem for Colonel Sanders.
If every Naxos disc were of this mettle, the big labels would be even more moribund than what they are currently are.
As an aside, I am deeply mystified by Giordano Bruno's comment, cabalistically whispered, that, "Conductor Diego Fasolis is familiar.... `one of us', strongly influenced by the aesthetics of `historically informed performance.'"
I don't understand. Since when has clarity been the sole preserve of period practice Robespierres?
This recording is no Festival of the Supreme Clipped Phrase with Fasolis prancing around daintily in a sky-blue coat. All I hear - and expect to hear - is a well-proportioned performance that eschews overt romanticism or tinniness. Fasolis obliges on all fronts. Great stuff!
My father-in-law bought this disc on Amazon for my wife when she was performing the Requiem on a music course and it has eventually found its way into my hands.
Although born in Florence, Cherubini spent much of his life in France and it is to this musical world that he undoubtedly belongs. He was favoured both by Napoleon and the monarchy and the main work on this disc, his Requiem, was first performed in 1816 to commemorate the death of Louis XVI, who had been executed by the revolutionaries. The work has been admired by the likes of Berlioz, Schumann, Brahms and Beethoven, who described it as "The greatest of the greatest of his work".
Not knowing any other works by Cherubini, I do not feel equipped to comment on the accuracy of this remark, but it is certainly a piece that invites discovery, even if it only occasionally touches greatness. The Introit introduces a mood of solemn mourning, but the most successful section of the work is undoubtedly the Dies Irae, introduced by brass and gong, an instrument of which the composer seems unaccountably fond. Reminiscent at times of Mozart's Requiem, Cherubini's "last trump" is marked by dynamic climaxes and moments of pleading and intensity. The work features no soloists, apparently to convey the directness of religious communication without "unnecessary embellishments".
The second work on the disc, the "Marche funèbre", written in 1820, the year of the assassination of the Duc de Berry, was composed for the royal chapel and was scored for a large orchestra. It is a grand, ceremonial work, punctuated by gongs and drums and is, to my ears at any rate, just a little bit vulgar.
The orchestral playing and choral singing are more than acceptable and Diego Fasolis does a good job in marshalling his forces. The recording, made in 1996 at the Cathedral San Lorenzo in Lugano is resonant and clear.