A Verdi evening with Christian Thielemann
Quattro pezzi sacri (00:43:09)
Rundfunkchor Berlin, Michael Gläser Chorus Master, Sibylla Rubens Soprano
Ballet music from Macbeth, Don Carlo and Otello (00:41:15)
Christian Thielemann in conversation with Eva-Maria Tomasi (00:17:17)
“You fortunate people who are still the sons of Bach,” wrote Giuseppe Verdi to Hans von Bülow on 14 April 1892. “And we? We too, the sons of Palestrina, used to have a grand tradition... our own!” The Quattro pezzi sacri are testimony to Verdi’s intense engagement with the polyphony of the old Italian masters, on the basis of which he ultimately found a very “modern” musical language.
The four compositions, originally written independently of each other, were assembled as a cycle by Arrigo Boito, Verdi’s loyal collaborator on Otello and Falstaff: an Ave Maria for mixed choir, and the Laudi alla Vergine for unaccompanied four-part female choir. In the other two “pezzi”, the choir is accompanied by a full orchestra, while in the Te Deum, with its massive blocks of sound, a double choir and a short, ethereal soprano solo are also required. In all four works, the composer succeeded in refining the reflection of the meaning of the text in the harmonies to new levels – an aspect Christian Thielemann is very much likely to pay attention to.
In sharp contrast to the sacred choral works that consciously diverge from the musical conventions of their time, works by Verdi the opera composer are also included in the programme: among others, the spirited ballet music “Ballo della Regina” from the opera Don Carlos, premiered in Paris in 1867, which Verdi had composed as an interlude in the 3rd act in accordance with French practice.