Continuing on the issue we previously discussed, I´d like to show you my version of the “Sanctus”, from Verdi´s “Requiem”.
I recommend listenig through full range speakers so the bass end can be clearly perceived.
To better follow the music, this free and legal link allows you to download the score:
This other link contains the compared parts:
The peculiarity in the “Sanctus” is that we are dealing with an eight part fugue for double choir (something similar to those I had to write in Venetian style when I was a counterpoint student). Because of this, the static character of the timpani part doesn´t match in a form where the independence of the lines and melodic construction are crucial.
Verdi writes C and F constanly but, if you analize the chord sequence (have a look at the score), you´ll see that, due to the frantic harmonic rhythm, those notes don´t match and, when they do, they produce a weird sensation, as they produce a first or second inversion feeling.
In the first entrance, I double bassoons, bass trombone, oficleide, basses in choir II and double basses. I also take a lower dinamic level to clarify the contrapuctual texture:
I decided to add the accents so as to phrase like the brass does (see that I´m not accenting those lows F´s: I´m trying to taper the phrase down).
For the next beat, I used the same criteria: to double bassoons, bass trombone, oficleide, basses in choir II and double basses.
Those notes circled in red don´t have an accent because, in the first case, they are the ending of the previous phrase (remember the previous cell started with a half note rest and an upbeat consisting of two quarter notes). In the second case, because I´m trying to taper the phrase down.
The same criteria is used for the next entrance:
I substitute the roll for a quarter note, as no one else plays that same figure. It also interferes with the phrasing in the brass:
The problem with this edition is a concept one. As you should remember from my previous post in the blog, one of the main things to take into account when modifying parts was to respect the character, meaning and concept of the work in our hands... Does my edition respect the character of the “Sanctus”?
I must recognize that, maybe, I have taken my modifications quite far. This work is not the waltz from “Die Rosenkavalier” (R. Strauss) or the “Intrada” in Janacek´s “Glagolitic Mass”. The problem is, as I previously explained, the frantic harmonic (and agogic) rhythm: if I was Verdi, I wouldn´t have writen timpani part for this movement.
As I explained in my previous post, composers, due to the intrinsic limitations of timpani writing at that time, had two options when the two available notes didn´t match the context: writing obvious wrong notes, or muting the timpani... The part by Verdi (Euterpe forgive me!) sounds really bad, what takes me to the following question: What is more disturbing for an educated ear, a part whith obvious wrong notes, or a part with maybe many notes?
To my ear, the original part is not satisfactory at all. Maybe my edition is not satisfactory for being excesive, but the notes are correct. I would have opted for not writing timpani part in this number, but Verdi did it, so the “tacet” option is unviable... Something has to be played! So, if something has to be played, I prefer my version, even knowing this part calls too much attention to itself (other reason for lowering the dynamic levels was to make the part a little bit more discreet). I apologize for been such an iconoclast but, in my modest opinion, the part writen by Verdi is not musically satisfactory.
|Verdi by Giovanni Boldini|
The “Sanctus” doesn´t admit half-measures: if we are going for changes, they have to be dramatic. Playing the original part (in this case) doesn´t convince me at all. The ideal situation would be to edit without clouding the musical line, not calling too much attention to the timpani part, not getting caught in the pedaling fun... In this case, my editing work contradicts these fundamental ideas (apart from implying some kind of “show off”) but, I don´t think it´s worth making subtle changes (in this case) which imply still playing wrong notes: we must change everything or nothing.
What is more disturbing to the global carácter of the “Requiem”?
a) Wrong notes
b) Timpani doubling the oficleide part
In my modest opinion, option a) is the most disturbing one.
What´s your opinion on this subject? I´d love to know it.
…et in Arcadia ego.
© David Valdés