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Deceit, murder and a black masked stranger. The myths surrounding Mozart's Requiem, his final unfinished work, go back far beyond Peter Shaffer's film, Amadeus.
But it did really happen; one of the world’s greatest composers died writing his own Requiem. Mozart himself was the first to start drawing sinister conclusions about the anonymous masked ‘middle aged, serious, impressive man’ who came to his door around July 1791, with a commission for a Requiem mass.
Already ill with an undiagnosed kidney disorder, he imagined he was writing his own Requiem. Using Bach and Handel’s earlier models of musical grief, and adding new orchestral colours with trombones, basset horn and a continuo section of organ and low strings, he creates music that is uniquely heartbreaking.
The ethereal, tender strains of the Recordare, which comes between the revelatory terror of the Rex Tremendae and the vehemence of the Confutatis, is the Requiem’s only vision of a world not afflicted by pain or grieving. Renowned Mozart pianist Lili Kraus speaks of the composer’s Requiem, “there is no feeling, human or cosmic, no depth, no height the human spirit can reach, that is not contained in his music.”
Contrast Mozart’s epic work with Ravel’s charming, nostalgic suite Mother Goose, in which the composer captures childhood innocence with beguiling perfection. Ravel’s signature elegance and luminous orchestral colours shine through as the Orchestra takes you through the mystery, magic and fantasy of these five fairy tales.