Concert for All Souls’ Day

October 31st, 2018

At 31 October 2018 in the Croatian National Theatre Split  was held concert for All Souls’ Day. On the repertoire was Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber and Camille Saint-Saëns Requiem op. 54. Performers were Antonija Teskera – soprano, Terezija Kusanovic – mezzo-soprano, Boze Jure Tesic – tenor, Mate Akrap – bass.


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The conductor was Frane Kuss.


Samuel Osborne Barber II (March 9, 1910 – January 23, 1981) was an American composer of orchestral, opera, choral, and piano music. He is one of the most celebrated composers of the 20th century; music critic Donal Henahan stated that “probably no other American composer has ever enjoyed such early, such persistent and such long-lasting acclaim.”[1].

His Adagio for Strings (1936) has earned a permanent place in the concert repertory of orchestras. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music twice: for his opera Vanessa (1956–57) and for the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1962). Also widely performed is his Knoxville: Summer of 1915 (1947), a setting for soprano and orchestra of a prose text by James Agee. At the time of his death, nearly all of his compositions had been recorded.

The String Quartet in B minor, Op. 11 was written in 1935–36 by Samuel Barber. Barber arranged the middle movement for string orchestra as his well-known Adagio for Strings in 1936. Barber continued to revise the piece, particularly the finale, until 1943.


 

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Camille Saint-Saëns (09/10/1835 – 16/12/1921), a French composer, born in Paris. Once described as the French Mendelssohn, he was a talented and precocious child, with interests by no means confined to music. He made an early impression as a pianist. Following established French tradition, he was for nearly twenty years organist at the Madeleine in Paris and taught at the Ecole Niedermeyer, where he befriended his pupil Gabriel Fauré. Prolific and versatile as a composer, by the time of his death in 1921 his popularity in France had diminished very considerably, as fashions in music changed.

The Requiem (opus 54) occupies a special place in Saint-Saëns’s religious choral works. Its dedicatee was a friend named Albert Libon, who had made a bequest to the composer of 100,000 francs on condition that Saint-Saëns should write a requiem to be performed after Libon’s death. This occured in 1877 and early the following spring, Saint-Saëns travelled to Switzerland where he composed the mass in its entirely within the space of eight days. Unlike Berlioz and Verdi, whose respective requiems were conceived in grandiose and quasi-operatic styles, Saint-Saëns’s composition never loses sight of the church. As in the Requiem of Fauré, a lifelong friend of the older composer, the vocal writing throughout is both devotional and entreating, with soloists and chorus echoing each other in urgent supplication. The scoring is discreet and lucid, the harps in particular making notable contributions to the accompaniment with filigrees of sound. The organ too has an important part, and is often used with striking effect, as in the “Tuba mirum” section of the “Dies irae”, where it is joined by four unison trombones. (At the first performance in 1878, under the composer’s direction in the Church of Saint-Sulpice, the organ was played by Charles Marie Widor.) The sorrow in the music, particulary in the opening pages of the Requiem, and again in the “Agnus Dei” (where the same theme is reprised), takes on an added poignancy when we learn that not long after Saint-Saëns returned from Switzerland, his young son fell to his death from the fourth floor of the family’s Paris home. This tragedy was compounded even more horribly when his other child died of an illness only a few weeks later. One can almost hear in Saint-Saëns’s deeply-felt music a premonition of the pain that was to come.