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5. TWO CONCERTS OF NOTE

The choral and instrumental music of Gian Carlo Menotti has parallels with his works for theatre, and Tre Cantate per solisti, coro e orchestra in its settings of words by Teresa of Avila, San Giovanni dalle Croce, and the composer himself, is a fusion of different music dating from the early 1980s through to the 90s.

Unpublished at the time of its first performance at the Cathedral of St Matthew Apostle, Washington DC on October 15 1982, St Teresa's melancholy text (adapted by Julia Melinek) Muero porque no muero is suggestively Gregorian in a modal Spanish setting.

It carries the same message and aura as the opening of The Saint of Bleecker Street in its sense of yearning passion. Something of the same spirituality pervades San Giovanni's text although the poignancy is less marked, while the final Death of Orpheus pictures the hero's abandoned lyre on the shore after Thracian women had torn off his tunic, then divided his limbs, and cast his severed head into the waves. As this floated on an indifferent sea, mariners filled their throats with longing while seemingly listening to Orpheus' lament by moonlight.

Menotti's calmly decorative orchestral seascape is distinctive in its rocking motions, contrary to the surging climaxes of Debussy, Bridge, and Sibelius, yet compelling in its authority as Apollo is requested to give his son a haven on some rocky shore, forever one with the sea.

Inexplicably, the soloists are named in neither the programme nor souvenir brochure, so I will await the Chandos release next year for details of the two male singers.

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Copyright © 27 November 2001 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK

 

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THE SPOLETO FESTIVAL WEBSITE

BILL NEWMAN'S VISIT TO THE 2000 SPOLETO FESTIVAL

 

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