Wednesday, 11 November 2009
What else could it be, on Remembrance Day? And this clip from 1993 is fraught, for me, with sadness for the gap I still feel Slava has left behind him. The late Richard Hickox is there too, conducting the LSO chamber ensemble. It also reminds me that Bryn was a natural from the start. Whatever circus lies in store with his 'Bad Boys' concert tonight at the Royal Festival Hall, my first assignment for what I genuinely believe to be a responsible, highly professional new online arrival in the shape of The Arts Desk, this proves Terfel has always been one of the great singers of this, indeed any age.
As for the War Requiem, I won't be hearing it live this year. Any performance has to be remarkable; last year's with Pappano and Royal Opera forces in the Albert Hall fitted the bill and quenched my thirst for the foreseeable future (by strange coincidence, there in that entry is a photo of another great musician we've lost, Sir Edward Downes). I can't believe I used, in my arrogant adolescence, to be sniffy about Britten's public face in the piece. Even just as a textural juxtaposition of Latin mass and Wilfred Owen poems, minus the music, it would have been a valid statement. As it stands, I can only echo Shostakovich's repeated assertion that this was one of the monuments of the 20th century, comparable only to Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde (which Shostakovich held in pride of place).
My admirable colleague Jonathan Swain compared recordings of the War Requiem on last Saturday's Building a Library. This link is a fridge note to myself that I have to catch it before it disappears from the 'Listen Again' facility in three days' time, and so should you. Of course I do know which version Jonathan chose, and although I'm sure he has sufficient integrity not to have regarded it as a foregone conclusion, how could it have been otherwise?
So, to conclude, the only possible 'One ever hangs', complete with very sensitive montage. Love the voice or hate it, you have to give Pears the palm for that final 'Dona nobis pacem'. Vishnevskaya told me this single phrase was the epitome of great artistry for her.