Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/124

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112

��REQUIEM.

��The second Requiem, in D minor, for three Male Voices, is, in many respects, a greater work than the first ; though the dramatic element per- vades it so freely, that its character as a Reli- gious Service is sometimes entirely lost. It was completed on Sept. 24, 1836, a few days after the Composer had entered his 7 7th year ; and, with the exception of the Sixth Quartet, and the Quintet in E minor, was his last important work. The Dies irse ' was first sung at the Concert of the Conservatoire, March 19, 1837, and repeated on the 24th of the same month. On March 25, 1838, the work was sung throughout. In the January of that year, Mendelssohn had already recom- mended it to the notice of the Committee of the Lower Rhine Festival; and, in 1872 and 1873, it was sung, as a Funeral Service, in the Roman Catholic Chapel, in Farm Street, London. It is doubtful whether Cherubini's genius ever shone to greater advantage than in this gigantic work. Every Movement is replete with interest ; and the ' whirlwind of sound* which ushers in the * Dies irae ' produces an effect, which, once heard, can never be forgotten. Vivo.

���(3.) It remains only to notice a work, which, though a Requiem only in name, takes high rank among the greatest productions of the present day.

The ' German Requiem ' of Johannes Brahms is, in reality, a Sacred Cantata, composed to words selected from Holy Scripture, in illustra- tion of the joys of the Blessed, and the glories of the Life to Come. It prefers no claim to be

��REQUIEM.

considered as a Religious Service, in any sens* of the word ; and must, therefore, be criticised, like the great Mass of Sebastian Bach, as a shorter form of Oratorio. So considered, it is worthy of all praise ; and exhibits, through- out, a striking originality, very far removed from the eccentricity which sometimes passes under that name, and too frequently consists in the presentation of forms rejected by older Composers by reason of their ugliness. The general style is neither dramatic, nor sensu- ously descriptive: but, in his desire to shadow forth the glories of a higher state of existence, the Composer has availed himself of all the latest resources of modern Music, including the most complicated Orchestral Effects, and Choral Passages of almost unconquerable difficulty. In the first Movement, an indescribable richness of tone is produced by the skilful management of the Stringed Band, from which the violins are alto- gether excluded. In the Funeral March, a strange departure from recognised custom is introduced, in the use of Triple Time, which the Composer has compelled to serve his purpose, so completely, that the measured tramp of a vast Procession is as clearly described, and as strongly forced upon the hearer's attention, as it could possibly have been by the ordinary means. The next division of the work introduces two Choral Fugues, founded upon Subjects which each embrace a compass of eleven notes, and differ, in many very important points, both of construction and treatment, from the Motivi employed by other adepts in this particular style of Composition. The Cre- scendo which separates these two Movements, is, at the same time, one of the most beautiful, and one of the most fearfully difficult passages in the entire work. No. 4 is an exquisitely melodious Slow Movement, in Triple Time ; and No. 5, an equally attractive Soprano Solo and Chorus. No. 6 is a very important section of the work, comprising several distinct Movements, and de- scribing, with thrilling power, the awful events connected with the Resurrection of the Dead. Here, too, the fugal treatment is very peculiar ; the strongly characteristic Minor Second in the Subject, being most unexpectedly represented by a Major Second in the Answer. The Finale, No. 7, concludes with a lovely reminiscence of the First Movement, and brings the work to an end, with a calm pathos which is the more effec- tive from its marked contrast with the stormy and excited Movements by which it is preceded. It is impossible to study this important Com- position in a truly impartial spirit without arriving at the conclusion that its numerous unusual features are introduced, not for the sake of singularitv, but, with an honest desire to pro- duce certain effects, which undoubtedly are pro- ducible, when the Chorus and Orchestra are equal to the interpretation of the author's ideas. The possibility of bringing together a sufficiently capable Orchestra and Chorus has already been fully demonstrated, both in England and in Ger- many. The ' Deutsches Requiem,' first produced at Bremen, on Good Friday, 1 868, was first heard,

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