About the album
Whereas others interpreted ancient and familiar mythology, Wagner created his own myth. Whereas others composed to librettos by poets, Wagner wrote his own texts. He even built his own opera house, which had to be different and innovative. Wagner was the greatest creative genius in music history.
And yet this superhuman giant also had a sense of humour, clearly audible in the wonderfully constructed Meistersinger overture. And he created intimate, sensitive lyricism, which moves us deeply in his Siegfried-Idyll. This lyricism is the most important aspect of Wagner's music: Brünnhilde's beautiful, longing melody which shines through the huge flame that absorbs both her and the collapsing world.
Colin Davis has always been among the more restrained and balanced of British conductors, even in High Romantic repertory, and perhaps even more so at the age of 85, when this live recording was made. This is a live recording of the Requiem, made at London's St. Paul's Cathedral in 2012. The work was written for the massive, squarish church of St. Louis des Invalides in Paris, and it features, at its ear-splitting climaxes, different groups of musicians scattered around the space and operating separately. Not only Davis but the London Symphony's engineers deserve praise for the results achieved on this release by the orchestra's own LSO Live label, for the Berlioz Requiem live, in a church, must be the black belt of sound engineering. Sample the passage beginning "Tuba mirum spargens sonum" (The trumpet spreading its sounds) in the Dies irae, track 2, for an indication of Davis' accomplishment here; this passage, where performers and engineers usually are content just to knock you down with sound, becomes a continuously exploding peroration from the four separate brass choirs involved. If there's a complaint here, it's that in some of the passages where Berlioz pushes them into their upper registers, the singers of the London Philharmonic Choir are less than silken, but the orchestra itself doesn't miss a beat. A major Berlioz Requiem, and a fine piece of work from the end of a remarkable symphonic career.
11Grande Messe des morts: I. Requiem et Kyrie
12Grande Messe des morts: II. Dies irae
13Grande Messe des morts: III. Quid sum miser
14Grande Messe des morts: IV. Rex tremendae
15Grande Messe des morts: V. Quaerens me
16Grande Messe des morts: VI. Lacrymosa
17Grande Messe des morts: VII. Offertoire (Domine Jesu Christe)
18Grande Messe des morts: VIII. Hostias
19Grande Messe des morts: IX. Sanctus
110Grande Messe des morts: X. Agnus Dei