Pavane, Op. 50 for Orchestra and Choir (1887-1888)
Symphonic suite “Pelléas et Mélisande”, Op.46 (1905)
Requiem, op. 48
The musicAeterna Orchestra and Choir conducted by Teodor Currentzis
Soprano — Fanie Antonelou (Greece)
Baritone — Thomas Mole (Great Britain)
In its first programme in 2022, musicAeterna addresses the exquisite restraint, clear melodism and filigree orchestral and choral notation of the late 19th – early 20th century music.
MusicAeterna will perform Gabriel Fauré’s most famous work, Requiem, and his Pavane for orchestra and choir, as well as the rarely performed symphonic suite “Pelléas et Mélisande” by Jean Sibelius based on the text of a play by Maurice Maeterlinck.
In the Pavane, Op. 50 for orchestra and choir, Gabriel Fauré pays a tribute to the Spanish court dance of the 16th century, and in the Requiem, Op. 48 for soloists, organ, choir and orchestra, to the poetics of the Gregorian chant and old polyphonic style, and thereby anticipates one of the most powerful musical movements of the new century – neoclassicism. Genre determinancy, broad breathing, direct expression of feelings make the relatively rarely performed symphonic suite by Jan Sibelius “Pelléas et Mélisande” not so much similar to the works of Fauré, Debussy and Schoenberg, inspired by the same symbolist piece by Maurice Maeterlinck, as to orchestral music of the mid-19th century.
In 1887, Gabriel Fauré wrote a short Pavane for piano, and in the summer he created an orchestral version of the music piece and dedicated it to Élisabeth Greffulhe, the famous Parisian patroness of artists, musicians and scientists. On the advice of the countess and for the sake of the proposed production with the participation of dancers, Fauré added choir to the orchestral score. Gallant verses in the spirit of Paul Verlaine to the already composed music were written by the countess’s cousin Robert de Montesquieu, a dandy, collector and symbolist poet, who, like the countess, became the prototype of one of the characters in Marcel Proust’s novel “In Search of Lost Time”.
Fauré began writing the Requiem in 1887, two years after his father’s death and a few months before his mother’s death, but claimed that he composed it “just for the pleasure of it,” and that he perceived the death itself “as a happy deliverance, hope for otherworldly happiness, and not as a painful transition.” The composer excluded the traditional section Dies irae (Day of Wrath) from his Requiem, and for the final lines of this text he wrote one of the most lucid parts of the work — Pie Jesu for soprano solo. Subsequently, he returned to this work more than once, adding parts and changing the instrumentation. MusicAeterna will perform the third version of the Requiem, written for a large orchestra, choir, two soloists and organ. The solo parts will be performed by the Greek soprano Fanie Antonelou and the young British baritone Thomas Mole.
The premiere of the third edition of Fauré’s Requiem was triumphantly held as part of the 1900 Paris Exposition. In the same year, Jean Sibelius visited Paris with a concert tour. Five years later, he received an order for music for the production of Maurice Maeterlinck’s play “Pelléas et Mélisande” at the Swedish Theatre in Helsinki. At the turn of the 20th century, Europe was passionately fond of symbolist literature and poetry, and Maeterlinck’s play was in demand in theatres in many countries. By 1905, Fauré, Schoenberg, and Debussy had already written music for this text. The poetic, full of soft melancholy, and restrained in the Nordic manner version of Sibelius received a notable success and consolidated his fame in Finland.