This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
The existence of not just one but three settings of the Requiem Mass by Cimarosa came as a surprise to me, as I imagine it will to most of us. We know him as a composer of a very large number of operas. and in particular of Il matrimonio segreto, composed five years later than this Requiem in C minor which now receives its first recording.
Early in December 1787, as I learn from the very informative but unsigned sleevenote, Catherine II of Russia invited the famous composer to her court at St Petersburg where Italian opera was all the rage. A few days after his arrival the wife of the ambassador of Naples and Sicily died and Cimarosa was asked by him to compose a Requiem Mass for the funeral. Composers did not need to bother
about being original in those days and Cimarosa could draw easily on a common stock of melodic ideas, but, nevertheless, his Mass is well shaped and certainly not a mere puce d'occasion. He unifies it by recapitulating the theme in the orchestral introduction to the Introit and sometimes also the vocal setting of "Requiem aeternam" at various points, as for example, in "Dies irae", "Tuba mirum" and the end of "Lacrymosa", and at the close of the work after the conventional fugue. It was certainly an original idea to allot "Tuba mirum" to the solo soprano and at this point the two horns are first added to the prevailing strings. There is little drama in "Dies irae", mostly straightforward chordal writing, with occasional imitative passages. Even if the music is not profound it is not trivial, though it is naturally at its most operatic in some of the numbers for the soloists, notably "Preces meae" for tenor and strings—in which the singer starts on a high and sustained B flat—and there are many expressive passages. Cimarosa secures plenty of variety by alternating solos with chorus, giving the solo soprano and contralto duets and, in one of the best sections, soprano, contralto and bass each a verse of the text before uniting them in a trio. The brief "Benedictus" for chorus is also notable.
Vittorio Negri edited and prepared the manuscript of the work—which he found in the library of Einsiedeln Abbey, Switzerland and performed it with the above forces--except for the tenor and bass soloists—at the Montreux Festival when it aroused great interest. The performance and recording are excellent and the conductor never gives the music more weight than it can bear.
Elly Ameling sings her part, as one would expect, beautifully and Birgit Finnila. though rather too restrained and too inclined to portandos, is at least adequate. I liked the unusual timbre of Richard van Vrooman's tenor voice, and Kurt Widmer, the bass, is good too. The chorus and orchestra sound to be just the right size and are both excellent. Altogether this is a most acceptable and welcome addition to the catalogue.
-- Gramophone [4/1970]
Works on This Recording
Requiem by Domenico Cimarosa
Kurt Widmer (Bass),
Birgit Finnilä (Alto),
Elly Ameling (Soprano),
Richard Van Vrooman (Tenor)
Lausanne Chamber Orchestra,
Montreux Festival Chorus
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