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<<  -- 2 --  Tess Crebbin    IRREPLACEABLE TO MUSIC


The Paradisi Gloria series of 2005 had already been fully planned out by Viotti at the time of his sudden death. This year, Viotti had chosen the theme: 'Jesus, his life and works'. For the first performance of the series, to be held on 18 February, Viotti had wanted to conduct a concert on the theme of the 'Seven last words on the cross' and had related each of these to a chorale of Bach's passion. The concert still went ahead, with a different conductor. After the final word, 'it is done', the chorus sang the well-known chorale from the St Matthew Passion: 'Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden'. Looking back on the event, Cardinal Wetter said in church:

'This was like his, Marcello Viotti's, personal prayer to the Lord, which we had prayed together with him and will do so again tonight:'

Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden,
so scheide nicht von mir!
Wenn ich den Tod soll leiden,
so tritt du dann herfür!
Wenn mir am allerbängsten
wird um das Herze mein,
so reiß mich aus den Ängsten
Kraft deiner Angst und Pein!

(Be near me Lord, when dying
Part not from me
And to my succour come flying
Lord, and set me free
And when my heart must languish
In death's last awful throe
Release me from my anguish
By your own pain and woe.

Whilst reading the words, the cardinal was overcome with emotion and, like many in the congregation, had to struggle to hold back his own tears. He remembered Viotti, with whom he enjoyed a personal friendship, as a '... positive person who enjoyed life, was always curious and took an interest in everything. We knew him as an exceptional conductor who was loved by his orchestras and who made his singers feel understood by him, who had loved singing since childhood and later studied it.'

Viotti, in fact, had so loved singing that for the tenor Marcello Alavarez's CD The Tenor's Passion (Sony) he not only conducted the Dresden Staatskapelle for the recording but he also joined in the singing for 'Recondita armonia'

Viotti's wife and children had travelled to Munich for the occasion of the memorial service. Also in attendance were many musicians that the conductor had worked with in the past, including some former orchestra members and students. 'It was very difficult for me to sing today,' said one member of the choir afterwards, 'but at least being in the choir meant that when I had to cry I was swept along by the others and so I was still able to sing.'

At the gathering of Viotti's friends and colleagues that followed the service, Zubin Mehta strongly asked for the plans for the orchestra's dissolution to be reconsidered. 'It is the first time I have conducted his orchestra,' he said, 'and it is so brilliant that it would be a great shame to see it go.'

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Copyright © 14 March 2005 Tess Crebbin, Germany


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