Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Tuesday Night at the Cafe: Pie Jesus from John Rutter's Requiem

Just home from Holy Week choir rehearsals at Truro. One of the highlights is that we're doing Rutter's entire Requiem on the evening of Good Friday starting at 7:30 p.m. (I'll be one hiding behind the music). If you are in the area on Good Friday, please know you are very welcome.

Here's some more information on the Requiem:
Requiem aeternam - The first movement consists of the Introit from the Tridentine Requiem Mass (Requiem aeternam) and the Kyrie.

The second movement is entitled Out of the Deep, and is based on Psalm 130, a psalm commonly used at Anglican funerals. It contains a prominent cello solo written in C minor.

The third movement is the motet Pie Jesu. It begins with a lyrical soprano soloist singing with a very light accompaniment, with only slight involvement of the chorus echoing the words "Dona eis requiem, Dona eis sempiternam requiem."

The fourth movement is the Sanctus (with Benedictus) and, characteristically, it is a bright, lively, and exclamatory movement which is brightly orchestrated with bells, flute, and oboe and occasional timpani recalling the passage in Old Testament scripture in Isaiah chapter 6, and the worship of the six-winged seraphim in the heavenly throne-room of God.

The fifth movement is the Agnus Dei in the version used in the Tridentine Requiem Mass.

The sixth movement is Psalm 23, another psalm commonly used at Anglican funerals.

The seventh movement includes words from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer Burial Service ("I heard a voice from heaven...") and the communion chant from the Tridentine Requiem Mass (Lux aeterna).


Anonymous said...

I've never understood churches singing Requiems on Good Friday. Doesn't it seem odd to pray to Jesus to save Jesus? It also generally seems like really, really bad theology to confuse a Requiem Mass with the events of Good Friday. There are plenty of wonderful musical works out there better suited to being sung on Good Friday than a Requiem. That being said, the Requiem of Rutter's is one of his best works in my opinion. I'm not a fan of his generally - he's quite an outspoken agnostic and in most recent interviews claims to have gone all the way to atheism. Although, lots of great sacred music was written by atheists.

BabyBlue said...

I found this on Rutter:

Not everyone loves his music. He’s been criticized, especially in England, for being too saccharine – tunes so sweet, as one critic said, that they were all but trail fairy dust.

“Some people say, ‘Well that’s too much heart-on-sleeve.’ Or, ‘You know, there’s not enough there,’” says Rutter. “What can you say? You can’t please everybody. It should be written in gold letters above every composer’s bed.” Although he’s gained an international reputation, Rutter’s career has centered around Clare Chapel and its choir.

For several years after college, he was the choir director. He got married there, and his oldest son, Christopher, was baptized there as well.

Christopher followed in his father’s footsteps, and sang in the choir. But in 2001, right after choir practice, Christopher was struck by a car and killed - it happened just outside Clare Chapel. His funeral was held a week later, in Clare Chapel.

“The sadness, of course, never goes. Anyone who’s been bereaved knows you never really get over it,” says Rutter.

Wilfried said...

OOOH, I'd forgotten! I did a setting of one movement of the Rutter requiem with what was maybe my favorite choir experience, a group of about 4-5 voices - so 1 person per part. I think it was the Pie Jesu, but with an alto part written in as a duet? Or was this a different part of the requiem? A while ago, but such a lovely piece.

Many blessings for the performance of this great piece - may God already begin opening the hearts of your audience in preparation for Good Friday.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #1 is right - 60 Minutes did a piece on Rutter several years ago, after his son had been killed. It was right before Christmas and the crux of the story was how interesting that someone who had written so many Christmas carols and popular arrangements of them was actually not a believer himself. It was interesting, and a bit surprising.

jmoss said...

1 & 2, that's why there is chocolate and vanilla, apples and oranges; one can pick and choose. Personally, I like them all and I've never met a Rutter piece I didn't like to sing. Just have to get in the mood, and that applies to anything you perform. I hope y'all have a straight tone soprano that can carry this off as beautifully as this one did.

jmoss said...

And he's correct, the sadness never goes. tempered? Yes, eventually, but it never goes away.

BabyBlue said...

"hope y'all have a straight tone soprano that can carry this off as beautifully as this one did."

We do - and it's not just that she has this amazing gift, she is an amazing gift to us at Truro.