<< -- 3 -- Ted and Emi Norrish DEVOTION AND HEROISM
Within the complex there are two venues for music -- the 'Rococo'-style
Cuvalliés Theatre (or Old Residenz Theatre), and the splendid Herkulessaal.
The Theatre was created in 1755 by Francois Cuvalliés. In the war
even the tiers of boxes were removed and saved. It is still used for productions
of the Bavarian State Opera. The Herkulessaal is a grand and spacious rectangular
hall, adorned on each side by huge blue and white tapestries depicting the
Labours of Hercules.
This was the venue for the choral and orchestral concert of the Bavarian
Radio Choir and Symphony Orchestra under Riccardo Muti. The first part of
the programme consisted of Schubert's early mass in G (D167). This work,
composed by Schubert at the age of eighteen, does not aspire to heights
or depths of emotion, but Muti conveyed its gentle sincerity. He controlled
the choir beautifully, especially in the quiet sections, and the few climaxes
were more effective for that.
The fine singing of the three soloists -- especially the bass, Carlo Colombara
-- contributed to the effect of classical nobility.
While Muti's Schubert was moving, his performance of Bruckner's great
Mass No 3 in F minor was overwhelming. He produced from the superb Bavarian
Radio Choir and Orchestra a sound that gloriously filled the Great Hall,
worthy of the hero who adorns its walls. The monumental Kyrie and
searing climaxes of the Gloria and Et Resurrexit were grand
and thrilling beyond description. The soloists were inspired to similar
heights -- especially the soprano of Ruth Ziesak and, once again, the bass
of Carlo Colombara. The Benedictus, with its warm introduction in
the cellos, and the concluding Dona Nobis Pacem, were deeply moving
in their sincerity.
And it is, of course, through sincerity that this Mass is great. The
sound, however spectacular, would still be but sound if it was produced
for its own sake or merely to display its own magnificence. Bruckner's Mass
is an overwhelming experience because it is the expression of the composer's
unbreakable faith in God; his music is great and glorious because of his
sincere belief in the greatness of God. The effect for the listener is more
direct precisely because, as in the case of Joseph Haydn, his faith is direct
and uncomplicated. Bruckner was a modest man who wrote for the glory of
God, not of himself -- in his own words, 'Omnia ad majorem Dei gloriam.'
If a great conductor, choir and orchestra come together to perform such
a work in this same spirit, the result is as we were privileged to hear
that evening in the Herkulessaal.
Copyright © 8 November 2002
Ted and Emi Norrish, Coventry, UK