It was great to be back at Choir rehearsal last Thursday. After several weeks’ break, exercising the rusty vocal chords and grappling with the intricacies of a maestro’s choral writing was a good way to spend an evening. And of course it was great to catch up with friends during the break, hearing about overseas trips, inter-state journeys and other goings-on. Some familiar faces were still missing, but hopefully they will return in the next few weeks.
Thank you, Naomi, for a great Bulletin this week. The article from the Guardian and the Wikipedia entries for Mozart and Mozart Requiem are indeed fascinating in giving something of an insight into what we are about to sing. There are also a number of books about Mozart, all of which contain further material about how Mozart came to write the Requiem, and how it came to be completed. A particularly interesting one on the Amazon Australia website is by the artist Sacheverell Sitwell, someone who had a deep understanding of the creative process from his own personal experience and that of many artistic friends and colleagues.
Perhaps because of the circumstances of the Requiem’s incompleteness on Mozart’s death, a number of composers in addition to Sussmeyer have made their own attempts at its completion. I remember several years ago hearing a version “completed and augmented” by the Australian composer Gordon Kerry, sung by the Sydney Chamber Choir. My records show that the highlight of the concert for me was not the Requiem, but the previous item, a selection from Victoria’s Tenebrae Responses – over thirty minutes of a cappella singing, brilliantly executed and perfectly in tune.
Maybe that suggests why Sussmeyer’s version seems to be the ending of choice. Another very powerful reason is that it is most likely that Sussmeyer’s completion was commissioned by Mozart’s widow Constanze.
But whatever the machinations and intrigue that went into the creation of this wonderful piece of music, I have no doubt that we will all enjoy rehearsing it over the next few months, and gain a huge sense of satisfaction when we perform it in May. We can look forward to hearing Carlos’ insights into the music and to understanding its true meaning and relevance.