Life, Death and a Spiritual Journey

  1. ΩN: "Det værende"
  2. Requiem
  1. Peter Szilvay conductor
  2. Ann Helen Moen soprano
  3. Ingeborg Gillebo mezzo soprano
  4. Magnus Staveland tenor
  5. Det norske solistkor

Easter Concerts — Mozart’s Requiem and Lasse Thoresen’s new work for choir and orchestra.

Mozart died in the middle of the creative process with his Requiem, but managed to deliver a timeless masterpiece which still moves us today. Lasse Thoresen also deals with existential themes in his newest large work for choir and orchestra; a meditative choral symphony entitled QN: The Being.

Lasse Thoresen (b.1949), is an advisor and long-standing leading figure among Norwegian contemporary composers, and presenting one of his new works is always an important moment. Thoresen has produced a number of solo concertos, chamber music and orchestra works, and his influences include Norwegian folk music, French spectral music and various Asian forms of music, to name only a few. The result is a body of work which is exceptionally rich in terms of style and expression, and which includes pieces that are both topical and enduringly fascinating. Many of Thoresen’s compositions possess a strong spiritual dimension, and this new choral symphony is no exception.

While the wicked are confounded, assigned to flames of woe unending… tenor and bass voices thunder in the opening of the Confutatis in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s (1756−1791) iconic Requiem. The racing music is accompanied by violent blows of the timpani, abrupt woodwinds and ominous motives played by the deep strings. The contrast couldn’t be greater when soprano and alto voices come in with a sustained legato; in a high register extending towards the heavens … Call me with Thy saints surrounded. Yet again, the fear of condemnation battles with a prayer for blessing before the movement dies out … Low I kneel, with heart submission; see, like ashes, my contrition; help me in my last condition. The choir gathers in prayer, despite the restless tritone intervals of the basses and the agitated strings, anxious in the face of death. And at the same time that our heads bow in the text, the sopranos sing a half note for every phrase, before we finally come to rest in a conciliatory major key. The following transitional chord leads us to the sorrowful sighing motive; the lament and tears of the Lacrymosa.

The movements Confutatis − Lacrymosa are illustrative of Mozart’s Requiem, and demonstrate the span of expression, the well-constructed narrative and the precision, subtlety and sensitivity of the music. The fourteen movements reflect a diversity of ideas, thoughts and feelings surrounding death, from the tender (Recordare) to the violent (Confutatis); from the grandiose (Rex Tremendae) to the fragile (Hostias); from calm (Introitus) to wrath (Dies Irae), all this composed using unmistakeable musical effects. In true 18th century style, the gestures are direct and unveiled, but at the same time every motion and every musical expression is laden with symbolism, from the highest heavens to the depths of hell.

Although Mozart’s Requiem has been surrounded by myths since 1791, a lot has since been uncovered. Count Franz von Walsegg commisioned the work via a messenger, intending to pass it off as his own. After his death, Mozart’s wife Constanze arranged for his student, Franz Xaver Süssmayer, to complete the unfinished work. Süssmayer’s contribution to the Requiem is loved and hated in equal measure, but without him the work may never have found its way into the concert hall. Nevertheless, most of the musical ideas must be attributed to the master himself. The sketch for the Lacrymosa has given birth to the myth that Mozart died just as he was noting his most sorrowful movement. The eight small bars provide both the mood and the concrete musical material for the movement as a whole, and there is now little doubt that Mozart’s Requiem is really the composer’s own work. The genius himself was cast in a pauper’s grave, but the world was left with a masterpiece.

The reception of Mozart’s music has varied throughout history, both in Norway and in Europe, and although his Requiem was well-known and very popular, it actually wasn’t performed very often by the Oslo Philharmonic in the early years. The first performance by the orchestra was only in 1956, when Odd Grüner Hegge conducted the work in connection with Mozart’s 200th anniversary. However, musicians from the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra had participated in performances of the work earlier, and it appears that the first performance was at a concert arranged by Cæciliaforeningen in Oslo Cathedral in 1928. The concert was conducted by the Norwegian violinist and conductor, Leif Halvorsen. 

(Text: Thomas Erma Møller; Translation  from Norwegian: Sarah Osa)

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Tickets

  • Adult: 190 - 490 NOK
  • Senior: 160 - 395 NOK
  • Student: 120 - 245 NOK
  • Child: 120 NOK
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