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Thursday, 13 November 2014

Resting in Peace and Ashes

Well., what a day. How can you compete with Fauré's Requiem, sung in translation in modern Cornish, to the accompaniment of a 1984 Casio keyboard? Just the way Fauré would have done it, if he'd had the modern Cornish.

The thing about old Fauré - and he wouldn't deny it, him being such an urbain bloke - is that that requiem of his is missing one giant element. A certain je ne sais quoi, as I'm sure he would have said in his native Latin. In other words, reading from left to right, a Dies Irae.

What good, you may ask, is a Dies Irae? Surely the "Day of Wrath when the Earth Dissolves in Ashes" is a nasty, wild, violent, aggressive concept - resonant with the idea of a God who is angry with things and is going to sort things out. In fact, if you think about it, the Fauré having an Offertory and no Dies Irae makes it the perfect requiem for the average modern church. And I wasn't dropping the Offertory, believe me. No. Some things are sacred.

But the great thing about the Dies Irae is that it brings colour, movement and a certain drama to the concept of a Requiem. So we inserted the one from Verdi in, just between the Sanctus and the Pie Jesu. 

Six people had to be treated for shock. Even the fact that we'd substituted in the Pie Jesu from Lloyd-Webber's piece - that being the one they all expect these days - didn't calm them down.

We had to administer 15 minutes (the minimum therapeutic dose) of Taizé and that just about got everyone back on an even keel. But that's taught me a lesson. No more messing with the classics. Next week's musical setting of Newman's "Dream of Gerontious" is going to have the overdrive taken off the electric guitar. And we're going to sing it in the original Bulgarian.

1 comment :

  1. I prefer the version with Native American liturgical dance (The Dream of Geronimo) - though the horses take up a lot of space and can be messy. Probably best to use the reduced orchestration and Stop The Cavalry.

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