Messa da Requiem, G. Verdi / Myung-Whun Chung
The highly respected South Korean pianist and conductor, Myung-Whun Chung will take to the podium to perform Messa da Requiem by Giuseppe Verdi at the beautiful Gran Teatro La Fenice in the centre of Venice. Verdi's Requiem for soloists, chorus and orchestra will feature some top-quality vocalists as well as the renowned La Fenice Orchestra and Choir. Regarded by many as one of the outstanding opera houses in all of Italy, La Fenice is a superb venue to enjoy some of Verdi's most exquisite music in sumptuous surroundings.
Verdi became interested in co-writing a version of the Catholic funeral mass following the death of the composer Gioachino Rossini in 1868. However, his initial collaborative efforts failed to come to fruition. Later, Verdi was inspired to write his Messa da Requiem after the death of the Italian writer, Alessandro Manzoni, a leading figure in the growth of support for an Italian national state in the nineteenth century. Consequently, it wasn’t until 1874 that the Requiem was premiered at the San Marco church of Milan, exactly one year after Manzoni's death.
As listeners may detect when listening to Verdi's Requiem, even from first hearing it, his version is distinctive from most others. The main reason is the operatic style that Verdi brings to his piece, not least given the fact that four lead singers are used, a soprano, a mezzo-soprano, a tenor and a bass. This is a full-blooded Requiem that features arias and choruses, and which also makes notable use of percussion, especially timpani.
As a leading figure in classical music for decades, there are few better choices to be charged with the conductor's baton for such a dramatic piece of music than Myung-Whun Chung. Born in 1953, Chung first made a name for himself in the mid-1970s when he took second place at the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition, then held in Soviet Moscow. After studying in New York, the talented pianist went on to gain numerous roles as a conductor and associated conductor. He became the Principal Conductor of the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome in 1997, for example, a role he held for eight years.
This concert is likely to be a big hit with devotees of both Myung-Whun Chung and Verdi, offering fascinating glimpses into the psyches of both men.