Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cleveland Orchestra: Verdi Requiem

Verdi: Messa da Requiem
The Cleveland Orchestra and The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus
Robert Porco, conductor
Liudmyla Monastyrska, soprano; Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano; Dimitri Pittas, tenor; Raymond Aceto, bass.

The end of a season at Severance Hall always feels like the end of a school year-- the last time you'll see people who have become familiar faces over the past season, at least until next season rolls around. With tonight's concert I've attended every Cleveland Orchestra concert program from the last three seasons with one exception -- when I was out of town for a family event.
In that sense it seems only fitting, if a bit moribund, that we end the season with a requiem, "a mass for the repose of the souls of the dead". Equally fitting was the choice of Giuseppe Verdi's Messa da Requiem which could be a best of Cleveland Orchestra highlights: Quiet soulful notes from the low strings, fast and furious but precise playing when called for, an air of reverent mystery, and close communion with the chorus presenting one cohesive organism.
On my way up to the Box Level this evening two ushers commented that they had heard the performance on Thursday and it was fantastic; another usher -- who I perhaps chat with more frequently than my own mother -- mentioned she had heard the same things from friends who were in the hall for Thursday. This information proved accurate.
Finding my seat in the back of Box 14 -- further House Right than I prefer* but the best available with how well-sold tonight's concert was, I was a little concerned that I'd not get the chorus. That worry proved without merit. (Speaking of boxes, surprisingly, the other occupants of my box didn't bother arriving until two thirds of the way through the concert)
The first movement (Requiem and Kyrie) starts slow and quiet and ends with a tortured (and torturous--it was my least favorite part of the performance) Kyrie elieson by the soloists. That was followed by Dies irae, the longest movement and the most varied in texture. It started powerful, loud, and fast. for a guy who likes all of the above this (and a few similar moments along the way) ranked among my favorites.
One thing my perch in Box 14 allowed a fantastic view of were the trumpets blowing from the juliet balconies that flank the stage -- ("Tuba mirum apranges sonum per speulchra regionum..."/"The trumpet, sending its wondrous sound throughout the tombs of every land...") -- a relatively rare treat for the Severance concertgoer. Fast, peaceful, and delicate were all emotions that appeared -- sometiems singularly, sometimes in pairs, throughout the remainder of the concert before culminating.
"Requiem aternam don eis, Domine, et lex perpetua luceat eis." ("Give them eternal rest. O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.")
The Blossom season starts in just a few weeks with the Fourth of July weekend.

*- My preference is Boxes 1-11 with Box 1 being center, Box 10 being house right, and box 10 being house left. Further out and the sound starts to change, with, for example, the violins sounding brighter on the high even boxes, and the high odd boxes just sound weird to my ear.

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