Navy Singers Perform Mozart's Ultimate Work

April 05, 1991|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Contributing writer

Just another week at the office for the Naval Academy Glee Club.

Fresh from a live television performance on CBS' salute to the troopsof Operation Desert Storm, the singers have returned to Annapolis topresent the Requiem of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at the Naval Academy Chapel at 3 p.m. Sunday.

John Barry Talley, director of musical activities at the Academy,will conduct the concert, which will also include Domenico Cimarosa's Oboe Concerto.

Soloist will be James Dale, the principal oboist of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra who also serves as the organist of the Naval Academy Chapel.

"The Mozart Requiem is a true challenge for us," said Talley. "It is extraordinary music that requires a fineness and a care for the shape of the phrase that makes it difficultto prepare for."

Mozart's Requiem has been shrouded in mystery and controversy since the moment of its conception in 1791 -- Mozart's last year. Commissioned secretly by Count Walsegg on the death of hiswife, the Requiem proved to be the composer's own epitaph. Mozart died before its completion, convinced all the while that he was in factcomposing his own memorial.

There were many emotional moments during its composition, with Mozart frequently collapsing in tears as hecompleted and sang through his favorite portions of the work.

Mozart's widow, Constanze, entrusted one of her husband's students, Franz Sussmayr (and not Antonio Salieri, as in the play and film, "Amadeus") with the task of completing and orchestrating the work from the master's own instructions.

Sussmayr later claimed several concluding portions of the Requiem as his own, and the musicological debate --is it Mozart or is it Sussmayr? --continues unabated to this day.

But however kitschy the "Sanctus" or problematic the trombone solo in the "Tuba mirum," there can be no disputing the authorship of the work's most glorious moments.

The extraordinary double fugue that opens and closes the work, the sublime "Recordare," the glowing dissonances at "Oro supplex" in the "Confutatis," and the shimmering "Huic ergo" of the "Lacrymosa" could only have come from one man -- Mozart,whose genius continues to light up the musical world 200 years afterhis death.

What better way to commemorate the bicentennial year of Mozart's death than with a performance of the Requiem? For tickets,call 267-3464.

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Tomorrow evening at St. Ann's Church in Annapolis, another choral experience awaits, as the Annapolis Chorale's Chamber Chorus and orchestra, under the direction of Ernest Green, present a concert featuring Gerald Finzi's "A Farewell to Arms."

Finzi's piece, a set of two moving 17th-century poems that employs a solo tenor and strings, will feature singer Gary Leard.

"This is a little-known piece that is absolutely gorgeous," said the conductor. "It's all about the yearning for peace that we all share, and we are veryproud to be presenting this work to the public.

Songs by Ralph Vaughn Williams, motets by Anton Bruckner, Samuel Barber's beautiful "Adagio for Strings," and Mozart's other-worldly "Ave Verum Corpus" will round out the program.

The concert starts at 8 p.m. For ticket information, call 263-4471.

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Talk about an embarrassment of riches: Later this month, the Arundel Vocal Arts Society, under the direction of Ava Shields, will present a program of French choral music, featuring compositions by Cesar Franck and Charles Gounod. The central work will be "The Seven Last Words of Christ," an oratorio by Theodore Dubois (1837-1924).

The concert will take place at 8:15 p.m. April 20 at the Severna Park United Methodist Church and will celebrate the installation of a new pipe organ at the church.

The French are among the greatest composers of organ music; how appropriate it isto link the choral music of Franck and Gounod with this installationof "the instrument of instruments."

For more information, call the church at 987-4700.

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