Requiem in d minor, W. A. Mozart
There are very few mourning works of music that can compete with the depth and monumentality of the Requiem in d minor, K. 626, by the immortal Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The Austrian composer’s final and unfinished composition stands in a league of its own thanks to the cathartic ascending harmonies, the points and counterpoints that build up slowly as if reaching all the way to the heavens, and the almost impossibly precise orchestration that characterises all of Mozart’s repertoire. The Rome Symphony Orchestra, the Nuova Arcadia Choir and four soloists, under conductor Pier Giorgio Dionisi, perform the Requiem in its entirety in the majestic Complesso Monumentale Donnaregina in Naples. A performance and a venue rarely present such a perfect match!
Mozart began work on the Requiem towards the end of 1791 under the commission of Count Franz von Walsegg. The Count intended the piece as a commemoration of his wife’s passing – and rumour has it he planned to present it as his own composition. His health slowly failing, Mozart barely had the first half of the complex piece written down before his untimely death on 5 December 1791. His student Franz Xaver Süssmayr took over and, using whatever notes and drafts the late composer had left behind, completed the Requiem’s score in 1792.
The tragic death of the composer led his widow Constanze to create a whole mythology around his final work: she dismissed Süssmayr’s contribution, claimed the dying Mozart was writing the Requiem for himself, and even floated the rumour he had been poisoned. Looking past the drama and macabre stories, however, it is plain to see that the Requiem is a funerary mass of staggering beauty and emotion that clearly bears the style and sensibility of its main author. The Mozart / Süssmayr score remains the classic version, and it sounds captivating, transporting and magical in Naples’s Complesso Monumentale Donnaregina.