Various Artists | Berlioz: Requiem, Op. 5

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Berlioz: Requiem, Op. 5

by Various Artists

Recorded live in 2017 at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, Virginia as part of the Virginia Arts Festival.
Genre: Classical: Mass
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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Requiem, Op. 5. "Grande messe des morts": I. Requiem et Kyrie. Introït (Live)
Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus, The Choral Arts Society of Washington & Joann Falletta
9:29 $0.99
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2. Requiem, Op. 5. "Grande messe des morts": II. Dies iræ. Prose. Tuba mirum (Live)
Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus, The Choral Arts Society of Washington & Joann Falletta
12:01 $0.99
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3. Requiem, Op. 5. "Grande messe des morts": III. Quid sum miser (Live)
Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus, The Choral Arts Society of Washington & Joann Falletta
3:00 $0.99
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4. Requiem, Op. 5. "Grande messe des morts": IV. Rex tremendæ (Live)
Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus, The Choral Arts Society of Washington & Joann Falletta
5:14 $0.99
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5. Requiem, Op. 5. "Grande messe des morts": V. Quaerans me (Live)
Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus, The Choral Arts Society of Washington & Joann Falletta
3:56 $0.99
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6. Requiem, Op. 5. "Grande messe des morts": VI. Lacrymosa (Live)
Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus, The Choral Arts Society of Washington & Joann Falletta
9:00 $0.99
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7. Requiem, Op. 5. "Grande messe des morts": VII. Offertorium. Domine Jesu Christe (Live)
Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus, The Choral Arts Society of Washington & Joann Falletta
9:36 $0.99
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8. Requiem, Op. 5. "Grande messe des morts": VIII. Hostias (Live)
Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus, The Choral Arts Society of Washington & Joann Falletta
3:04 $0.99
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9. Requiem, Op. 5. "Grande messe des morts": IX. Sanctus (Live)
Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus, The Choral Arts Society of Washington, Joann Falletta & Robert McPherson
10:05 $0.99
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10. Requiem, Op. 5. "Grande messe des morts": X. Agnus Dei (Live)
Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus, The Choral Arts Society of Washington & Joann Falletta
11:20 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
About the Music: Hector Berlioz — Grande Messe des morts

Berlioz

Born in the Alpine town of Grenoble in 1803, Hector Berlioz benefited from the conveniences of a well-to-do family and a liberal education from his physician father. While interested in music, the young Berlioz did not demonstrate qualities of a child prodigy, and instead was pushed off to Paris for schooling in medicine. More interested in attending the opera and studying Beethoven, he spent his time poring over scores in the Paris Conservatoire, eventually abandoning his pursuit of the medical field altogether. In addition to the scores of other great composers, he devoured literature including works by Shakespeare and Goethe, all while obsessively pursuing the renown and pension associated with winning the venerated Prix de Rome. The fourth time he set out to compose his application for the Prix, the French Revolution of 1830 broke out in the streets of Paris, and amid the sounds of bullets striking his apartment walls, he composed the music that achieved first place, setting the foundation of his legacy as one of the most important nineteenth-century French composers.

The Requiem

The Prix de Rome helped prove Berlioz’s academic and technical acumen as a composer, but that same year (1830), he composed a story-symphony about an opium-induced dream, Symphonie fantastique, establishing a reputation for wildly imaginative music. The taste of success left him wanting more, and he began imagining a massive work composed “on a grand scale.” The opportunity to compose a Grande Messe des morts came to Berlioz in 1837 for a commemoration of the July Revolution which had occurred seven years earlier. Minister of the Interior of France Adrien de Gasparin approached the composer to commission a work to be performed in remembrance of the soldiers who lost their lives in the fighting, but even after the composition was completed, the skittish government severely curtailed the ceremony for political reasons, excluding the performance of the composer’s masterwork.

As Berlioz scrambled to recoup his lost investment, word came that the Mayor of French-controlled Algeria General Damrémont was gunned down during the siege of the Algerian city Constantine in October of 1837. Despite Berlioz’s anguish over the cancellation of his massive premiere, the need to commemorate the fallen General and his soldiers presented the opportunity to produce the Requiem in patriotic fashion. As Damrémont was buried at Paris’ massive military history museum Les Invalides on December 5th, the work was premiered under the baton of François Antoine Habeneck.

The premiere featured over four hundred performers, but the score allows for many more, including up to 10 timpanists, a massive wind section, and four antiphonal brass bands, all needed to balance a massive choir of voices. The novelty of the enormous ensemble had a profound effect on the audience, as Berlioz recalled in his memoirs, “At the moment of the Last Judgement the terror caused by the five orchestras and the eight pairs of timpani which accompany the Tuba Mirum is beyond description; one of the women choristers was hysterical. Truly it was a moment of formidable grandeur.”

Several decades after the premiere, Berlioz famously recounted in his memoirs an episode during the December 5th performance in which Habeneck paused between movements take a pinch of snuff. In a blind rage, Berlioz stormed the stage and led the orchestra to the work’s conclusion. The validity of this story is unverifiable, but regardless, the Requiem was a roaring success in the press and amongst the public. Symphonie fantastique remains the composer’s most known and most performed work, but Berlioz always attested that the Grande Messe des morts was his favorite.

In 10 movements, the Requiem is divided into five sections, beginning with a short introduction of rising chromaticism, and is followed by falling scales and desperately pleading melodies in the Requiem aeternem and Kyrie. The Sequence begins with a depiction of Judgement Day with the stark Dies irae. The Tuba mirum “Summons all before the throne” with the massive sound of the brass orchestras and timpani, and is followed by the solemn music of Quid sum miser, which depicts the day after Judgement Day. The annunciatory Rex tremendae offers a joyous juxtaposition to the drama which preceded it, and is followed by further contrast with the a capella chorus in a prayerful Quaerens me. The Sequence concludes with the climactic Lacrimosa. In this illustration of the fear of damnation, the brass bands and percussion join the choir in a tremendously terrifying climax.

The Offertory was regarded by his peers as a work of genius. Throughout the first movement, Domine Jesu Christe, the chorus is “stuck” on the same two-note motif as if locked in purgatory, as the orchestra unfolds a complex multi-layered fugue, and is followed by the Hostias. Berlioz, a brilliant orchestrator, depicts the gaping divide between heaven and hell with an unusual combination of flutes and trombones which accompany the men’s choir as they sing a hymn-like prayer for the dead. In the heavenly Sanctus, a tenor soloist is surrounded by an angelic choir that develops into a celebratory fugue sung by the full chorus. The Agnus Dei recapitulates the music and spirit of Berlioz’ Grande Messe, with a simple and sensitive “Amen” conclusion.
– Chaz Stuart 2017©

A Message from JoAnn Falletta
Conductor, Virginia Symphony Orchestra

Every conductor cherishes a “dream list” of pieces that he or she hopes to have the privilege of performing in their lifetime. Thanks to the extraordinary vision and generosity of David and Susan Goode and the exemplary stewardship of Rob Cross and his Virginia Arts Festival team, many of those dreams have come true for me (Mahler Symphony #8, Bernstein Mass, Bartok Bluebeard’s Castle among them). The Berlioz Requiem is perhaps the most challenging of those wonderful, sprawling, unforgettable works, and I feel honored to have performed and recorded this with the orchestra I have conducted and loved for over 25 years. A passionate, irrepressible, romantic genius, Hector Berlioz created an overwhelming personal response to the revolutionary upheavals in France during his lifetime — a work that is a theatrical cataclysm, exploiting the composer’s unique sense of drama through enormous forces of orchestra, choruses, 16 thundering timpani, four heraldic brass bands and tenor soloist.

Shattering walls of sound contrast with moments of exquisite intimacy, marrying the overwhelming terror of death with faith in the mercy of God, in a grand vision that could only have been conceived by the profoundly gifted iconoclast who was Hector Berlioz.

We are delighted that our beloved Virginia Symphony Chorus was with us to share in this musical milestone, and that they were joined by the Choral Arts Society of Washington, who brought their stellar musicianship to the Requiem, and helped fill Chrysler Hall to the rafters with the beauty and power of Berlioz’ score. Robert McPherson sang from the balcony with a sweetness that cast him as an angel of tenderness in the vast emotional panoply of Berlioz’ masterpiece.

The Requiem ends in quiet gentleness, as the dead cross their last frontier into a new world we can only imagine. The experience for all of us was breathtaking, and we will treasure the memory of being in the middle of this spiritual epiphany all of our lives.

VIRGINIA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Under the leadership of GRAMMY®-winning music director JoAnn Falletta, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra is Virginia’s preeminent professional symphony orchestra with a mission of inspiring, educating and connecting audiences of all ages. Founded in 1921, it is ranked in the top ten percent of professional orchestras nationwide and serves the entire Southeastern Virginia region with Classics, Pops and Family concert series in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News and Williamsburg as well as performances in outlying Virginia and North Carolina communities, reaching nearly 150,000 concert-goers every year. Additionally, the orchestra annually reaches 45,000 children, students and lifelong learners with its education and community programs. The Virginia Symphony has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center and is a cornerstone of the performing arts in Hampton Roads.

JOANN FALLETTA
JoAnn Falletta is internationally celebrated as a vibrant ambassador for music, an inspiring artistic leader, and a champion of American symphonic music. She serves as the Music Director of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Brevard Music Center. Ms. Falletta has guest conducted over a hundred orchestras in North America, and many of the most prominent orchestras in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. Ms. Falletta is a leading recording artist for Naxos. Her discs have won two Grammy® Awards and received ten Grammy® nominations. In 2016, Ms. Falletta celebrated the release of her 100th recording, Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale Suite / Octet / Les Noces with the Virginia Arts Festival Chamber Players. Other recent recordings with Virginia Arts Festival include Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale and a disc of works by Mahler.

VIRGINIA ARTS FESTIVAL
Since 1997, Virginia Arts Festival has transformed the cultural scene in southeastern Virginia, presenting great performers from around the world to local audiences and making this historic, recreation-rich region a cultural destination for visitors from across the United States and around the world. The Festival has presented numerous U.S. and regional premieres, and regularly commissions new works of music, dance, and theater from some of today’s most influential composers, choreographers and playwrights. The Festival’s arts education programs reach tens of thousands of area schoolchildren each year through student matinees, in-school performances, artists’ residencies, master classes and demonstrations.

VIRGINIA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA CHORUS
Since its first performance in 1990, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus has been stirring audiences with classical and contemporary performances. In addition to its annual concert season appearances in Hampton Roads, the chorus has performed under the baton of Chorusmaster Robert Shoup for performances in Prague, Vienna, Berlin, Leipzig, Munich, and Salzburg. The Chorus performed Belshazzar’s Feast at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and appeared twice at the Breckenridge Music Festival in Colorado. The Chorus was an integral part of the 400th anniversary of Jamestown Celebration, the critically acclaimed 2010 Virginia Arts Festival performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, Mahler’s 8th Symphony, and Stravinsky’s Les Noces. The Chorus has been featured on a number of VSO and VAF recordings, performing works by Hailstork, Stravinsky, Mahler and Berlioz.

THE CHORAL ARTS SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON
Founded in 1965 by Norman Scribner, the Choral Arts Society of Washington is an integral part of the Washington, D.C. community. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Scott Tucker, Choral Arts produces an annual concert season primarily at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and has a rich history of performing locally, nationally and internationally, including appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Pennsylvania Ballet, Wolf Trap Opera and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The organization has earned awards not only for its artistic excellence, but its administrative leadership and educational portfolio. Choral Arts has an impressive history of commissioning and performing new works, as well as presenting area and world premieres of contemporary music.

ROBERT MCPHERSON, TENOR
Tenor Robert McPherson has a distinguished international career, winning critical acclaim for his performances with English National Opera as Nadir in Les pêcheurs de perles, Metropolitan Opera as Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro, Washington National Opera as Ramiro in La cenerentola and Lindoro in L’italiana in Algeri, New York City Opera as Rodrigo in La donna del lago, Utah Opera and Lyric Opera of Kansas City as Ernesto in Don Pasquale, Welsh National Opera as Lord Percy in Anna Bolena, and more. He has performed in festivals throughout the world including the Mostly Mozart Festival, Edinburgh Festival, Rossini Opera Festival, and Caramoor International Music Festival. His concert performances include Handel’s Messiah, Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, Bach’s Magnificat, and Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex.

ROBERT SHOUP
Chorusmaster, Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus
Robert Shoup’s national and international conducting credits include the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra, ensembles from the Prague Radio Orchestra and Czech State Philharmonic, and numerous choral ensembles. Performances by his choruses have been described by critics as “totally enthralling,” and have included numerous collaborations that have combine music, dance and visual arts. His ensembles have been featured on numerous recordings, including two discs with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra for the Naxos label. He served as Assistant Music Director for the Virginia Symphony and Virginia Arts Festival’s highly acclaimed production of the Leonard Bernstein Mass and coordinated the collaborating choruses for 2012 performances and recording of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, the Symphony of a Thousand.

THE CHORAL ARTS SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON
Founded in 1965 by Norman Scribner, the Choral Arts Society of Washington is an integral part of the Washington, D.C. community. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Scott Tucker, Choral Arts produces an annual concert season primarily at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and has a rich history of performing locally, nationally and internationally, including appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Pennsylvania Ballet, Wolf Trap Opera and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The organization has earned awards not only for its artistic excellence, but its administrative leadership and educational portfolio. Choral Arts has an impressive history of commissioning and performing new works, as well as presenting area and world premieres of contemporary music.

Recording by Arts Laureate
Recording Engineers: Kevin Bourassa, Chris Clark
Session Producer: Dan Merceruio
Editor: Michael Ducassoux
Mix Engineer: Kevin Bourassa
Mastering Engineer: Kevin Bourassa
Producer: Christian Amonson

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