The second bookend is Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem, a work of considerable scope and drama written by Verdi primarily as a concert piece to honor his friend, poet Alessandro Manzoni on the first anniversary of his death. It is dramatic and grand in scope with a performance duration of about 85 minutes. The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay will perform this work on April 23rd in Sarasota with Gloria Musicae and the Sarasota Orchestra.
In the middle, we have Mahler in a work of no small proportion. I have three recordings of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 ("Resurrection"), and they all have performance durations of about 90 minutes. The choral portion comprises about 16 minutes at the end of movement 5, but heavens, what music it is! We will perform Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with The Florida Orchestra in only three weeks, on March 17-19.
I first encountered Gustav Mahler back in my college days. My vinyl LP collection consisted largely of orchestral works by Beethoven, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky, and on one of my record store visits, I was at a loss regarding what to buy. I came upon a recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4. I had not been familiar with his music, but there was a big sale on and I did not want to walk out empty-handed, so I took a leap of faith. I can’t say that I fell in love with it at my first hearing, but I was struck to hear a Soprano Soloist singing “Das himmlesche Leben” from Mahler’s “Das Knaben Wunderhorn” in the final movement. I was fascinated to find that another composer had added the human voice to a symphonic work. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 was a favorite of mine with its choral ending and I wanted to explore more symphonic works that included the human voice.
Video highlight of Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker performing Mahler's Symphony No. 2. Recorded at the Berlin Philharmonie, on January 31, 2015: