Monday, June 04, 2012

Paul Leavitt's Requiem follows the gentle examples of Faure, Rutter


There is now another post-romantic Requiem setting.  The newest is a 47 minute work by Paul Leavitt. The CD (which was being sold this weekend at the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC Pride performance), conducted by Thea Kano, performed by the Festival Choir and Orchestra of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation.

A WETA broadcast of a performance at the Church, on E Capitol St, NE, in Washington DC on April 16 or 17, 2011, has this link. The chorus included the New York City Master Chorale and the Rock Creek Singers of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC.

The Requiem comprises nine movements, but does not include a “Dies Irae” movement.  The music is gentle, somewhat in the manner of the Faure and Rutter requiems.  (That is, it goes in the opposite direction from Benjamin Britten's post-Mahler War Requiem, which I did hear performed by the Dallas Symphony and Chorus in the early 1980s.)  Movement 6 is the “Agnus Dei”, often the last movement of many concert requiems.  But a “Lux Aeterna”, “Libera Me” and “In Paradisum” will follow.  The music gets agitated and fugal in “Libera Me”, and the movement quotes the “Dies Irae” motif toward the end.  The music also gets impassioned in the “Paradise” movement, before settling to a quiet ending in B Major.  (The opening movement started in D Minor, as I checked on my Casio.)

The CD included Mr. Leavitt’s a cappella settings of Psalms 23 and 121, and “O Magnum Misterium”, as well as “A Christmas Madrigal” with Leavitt at the piano, and “In Luther’s Words”, adding flutist Christopher J. Redden.

As for the Faure Requiem, it has been performed a few times since the 1950s at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC, and once in a church in Chambersburg, PA, a field trip in the spring of 1991 for which I still have a “long memory.”

Here is a YouTube from the New York City Master Chorale of the last movement of the Requiem from Feb. 2012:

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