Southern Californians, take note of the fact that the long-awaited premiere of Christopher Rouse's Requiem is happening at Disney Hall on Sunday, courtesy of the intrepid Los Angeles Master Chorale. David Salvage has an enticing preview. I have the score, and it looks to be a tremendous, floor-rattling experience. Britten's War Requiem is the obvious model: the traditional Latin texts are interwoven with poetry of Seamus Heaney, Siegfried Sassoon, Michelangelo, Ben Jonson, and Milton. A solo baritone recitation of Heaney's "Mid-term Break" begins the work: "I sat all morning in the college sick bay / Counting bells knelling classes to a close, / At two o' clock our neighbors drove me home." Then the chorus sings a dense, semi-archaic, motet-like setting of the Kyrie. At the end of that section, percussion instruments steal in pppp — snare drum, bass drum, timpani, cymbals, tomtoms, tam-tam — and build to a raucous ffff. A wild setting of the Dies irae begins, explosive percussion combined with a singing, shouting, chanting, glissandoing chorus. Only in the following Tuba mirum does the rest of the orchestra finally enter. I'll look for full reports by Swed, Rich, and Mangan. [Links added 3/26.] This is a work that ought to be done, indeed should have been done, in New York; it is indirectly a memorial to September 11. Rouse is generally an underrated composer, a great musical storyteller.
New York won't lack for events in the next few days. Mitsuko Uchida is playing Mozart with Colin Davis at the New York Philharmonic. The MATA Festival continues at the Brooklyn Lyceum. The awesome Gerald Finley sings at Zankel Hall on Friday. The same night, Wordless Music offers another genre-spanning event, this one bringing together rock, electronic, and classical artists from Canada: Polmo Polpo, Toca Loca, and Social Music Work Group. And if you missed the sublime Music for 18 Musicians at Carnegie last fall, So Percussion reprise Steve Reich's masterpiece on both Friday and Saturday nights at Miller Theatre.