Somtow Sucharitkul & Siam Philharmonic Orchestra | Requiem for the Mother of Songs

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Requiem for the Mother of Songs

by Somtow Sucharitkul & Siam Philharmonic Orchestra

Somtow's Requiem for Princess Galyani, 3 years in the composing, from its Bangkok premiere.
Genre: Classical: Mass
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Requiem for the Mother of Songs: I. Requiem Aeternam (Live)
Somtow Sucharitkul & Siam Philharmonic Orchestra
7:59 $0.99
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2. Requiem for the Mother of Songs: II. Kyrie (Live)
Somtow Sucharitkul, Siam Philharmonic Orchestra, Bangkok Christian College Boys Choir & Siam Orpheus Choir
3:25 $0.99
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3. Requiem for the Mother of Songs: III. Dies Irae (Live)
Somtow Sucharitkul, Siam Philharmonic Orchestra, Nancy Yuen, Israel Lozano, Grace Echauri & Gittinant Chimsamran
12:53 $0.99
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4. Requiem for the Mother of Songs: IV. Lachrymosa (Live)
Somtow Sucharitkul, Siam Philharmonic Orchestra & Nancy Yuen
6:29 $0.99
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5. Requiem for the Mother of Songs: V. Pie Jesu (Live)
Somtow Sucharitkul & Siam Philharmonic Orchestra
6:57 $0.99
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6. Requiem for the Mother of Songs: VI. Offertorium (Live)
Somtow Sucharitkul, Siam Philharmonic Orchestra & Gittinant Chimsamran
4:25 $0.99
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7. Requiem for the Mother of Songs: VII. Hostias (Live)
Somtow Sucharitkul, Siam Philharmonic Orchestra, Montfort Childrens Choir & Bangkok Christian College Boys Choir
3:52 $0.99
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8. Requiem for the Mother of Songs: VIII. Sanctus (Live)
Somtow Sucharitkul & Siam Philharmonic Orchestra
3:59 $0.99
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9. Requiem for the Mother of Songs: IX. Benedictus (Live)
Somtow Sucharitkul & Siam Philharmonic Orchestra
3:26 $0.99
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10. Requiem for the Mother of Songs: X. Agnus Dei (Live)
Somtow Sucharitkul, Siam Philharmonic Orchestra & Grace Echauri
5:42 $0.99
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11. Requiem for the Mother of Songs: XI. Libera Me (Live)
Somtow Sucharitkul, Siam Philharmonic Orchestra, Siam Orpheus Choir, Nadlada Thamtanakom, Nancy Yuen, Barbara Zion, Israel Lozano, Grace Echauri & Gittinant Chimsamran
11:06 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
from "The Nation"

Somtow Sucharitkul's "Requiem for the Mother of Songs", premiering last month to a capacity audience at the Thailand Cultural Centre, has positioned itself as a "big" work. It is big in every way, though some last minute cancellations meant that "only" 406 performers could be seen on stage instead of the rumoured 500. Nevertheless, in its length (75 minutes) and completeness (it is one of the only requiems ever composed to include every word of the traditional Latin liturgy for the dead) and most of all in its gigantism (it is scored for large chorus, large orchestra, off-stage brass band, seven soloists, and two children's choirs in stereo as well as an array of Thai instruments), Somtow's work wants to tell us that this is a masterpiece, a culminating work in a half-decade of composing music.

But size in itself is not necessarily an indicator of greatness. One comes to something billed as being so "enormous" with scepticism. Yet from its ethereal opening to its paradisial close, this is a breathtaking and, despite its harmonic conservatism, a strikingly original work in which the composer seems to have tried to rethink every aspect of how a requiem is put together.

In the twentieth century, composers were taught than only an uncompromising, avant-garde style could be taken seriously. Somtow's early works were in this vein, and when he began writing in a neo-romantic style in the late 90s, he was criticised for "selling out". Indeed, Somtow's works of that period were technically impressive but stylisticly vapid.

In the Requiem, which took the normally lightning-fast Somtow three years to compose, we finally see a real synthesis of the old and the new Somtow. The huge forces are used quite economically, coming together completely only in the last movement. The hellish terrors of the last judgement are invoked through stark twelve-tone passages while heaven seems very Thai, with Northern Thai melodic motifs throughout and long stretches of stillness. Indeed, the five-minute G major chord which the composer holds throughout the entire Sanctus (and which he has said represents the "perpetual light" of God) must be the longest unchanging tonality in a mainstream classical work.

The seven soloists, chosen because of prior associations with Her Royal Highness the late Princess Galayani, varied from world-class to competent. Of special interest were Nancy Yuen, who had a virtuoso turn in the Lacrimosa movement with Monteverdi-like repeated notes and weird leaps, and Grace Echauri, recently seen in Bangkok as Carmen, who imbued the Agnus Dei with a haunting, haunted quality.

Two children's choirs, one from Bangkok and the other from Chiang Mai, had occasional intonation issues but many ravishing moments.

The in paradisum at the end with its Lanna-style melodies strangely reminiscent of mediaeval paintings was well worth the 70-minute lead up.

The choir - from Thailand, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Indonesia and other countries - had studied the piece in their own countries before coming and only had four days to get it together with the Thai group under USC trained Chulalongkorn University choir master Dr Pawasut. The choir sounded impressively full bodied and negotiated Somtow's extremely high tessitura with unexpected ease.

The greatest kudos go perhaps to the Siam Philharmonic Orchestra. Having weathered Mahler and Bartok in the last couple of years, they attacked this music with passion and fire and didn't balk at the composer's often very stringent demands.

From the ethereal opening on strings, which was then joined by the hushed large chorus, Somtow's Requiem holds an immediate promise of something both intimate and grand. This opening section moves with grace and harmony suggesting an "other-worldly" domain. Piercing trumpets and undulating strings bring the section to a fine resolution with the gentle chorus rising in dynamics to conclude the section with hair-raising culmination.

The concluding section calls for all seven vocal soloists with full orchestra and all choruses. The off-stage brass fanfares open the section with a loud call. Timpani, brass, and chorus culminate in a cacophony of sound blending all that has gone on before. The music surges into a long and stunning climactic passage before it transitions by sliding gracefully into the In Paradisum, the final section of this Requiem where the children once again win the day and steal your heart. The work concludes with the Amen in hushed tones of reverenceThe question as to whether this Requiem will finally belong on the same shelf as the Berlioz, Verdi and Mozart Requiems is one that only history can answer. This reviewer feels that it is probably the first real contender this side of the twenty-first century.

A huge bravo to the maestro and his 406 cohorts for his persistence and vision in bringing this masterwork off the printed page and into reality.

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