Fauré’s magnificent Requiem – a setting to music of the Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead – is the main work in a concert at Davies Symphony Hall on Sunday evening. Conductor Ragnar Bohlin leads soprano Joanna Taber, baritone Hadleigh Adams, organist Jonathan Dimmock and members of the Grammy-winning San Francisco Symphony Chorus in a performance of some of the most beautiful melodies which Fauré wrote.
The best known of Gabriel Fauré’s orchestral works, the Requiem was composed in the late 1880s, and first performed for a funeral mass at La Madeleine in Paris in 1888, conducted by the composer. Fauré revised it in the 1890s, and the final version – reworked for full orchestra – was completed in 1900.
Peaceful and serene, the Requiem comprises seven movements – the Introït and Kyrie, Offertoire, Sanctus, Pie Jesu, Agnus Dei, Libera me, and In Paradisum – and, according to the composer, is “dominated from beginning to end by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest”. He is quoted as saying that he saw death as “a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful experience”.
Fauré’s Requiem was performed in its full orchestral version in 1924 at the composer’s own funeral.
Sunday’s concert also includes an a capella performance of Brahms’ Fest- und Gedenksprüche. Originally written to celebrate the occasion of the composer becoming a freeman of the city of Hamburg, these three choral pieces – in which Brahms uses combinations of passages from the Bible – were intended by Brahms to be used on national days of commemoration.
The third work in this concert is Mason Bates’ Mass Transmission for organ, electronics, and chorus. Featuring the composer on electronica, Mass Transmission, he says, “tells the true story of a distantly-separated family communicating over the earliest radio transmissions …. a kind of 1920’s-era Skype”. It was premiered during the 2012 American Mavericks Festival, a month-long series of concerts and special events by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony “focusing on the voices who created a new American sound for the twentieth century and beyond”.
For more information about the concert on Sunday, May 1, visit the San Francisco Symphony website.
Michael Steinberg (2005). “Gabriel Fauré: Requiem, Op. 48”. Choral Masterworks: A Listener’s Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press – via Wikipedia
John Rutter (1984). Preface to Requiem Op. 48, by Gabriel Fauré. Chapel Hill, NC, USA: Hinshaw Music – via Wikipedia
Jean-Michel Nectou (1991). Gabriel Fauré – A Musical Life. Translated by Roger Nichols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press – via Wikipedia
Robert Orledge. Gabriel Fauré. London: Eulenberg Books, 1979 – via Wikipedia