Saturday 20 November 2021, 7pm
Sunday 21 November 2021, 3pm
Chapelle royale de Versailles

With
Fatma Saïd Soprano
Ambroisine Bré Alto
Robin Tritschler Tenor
Andreas Wolf Bass

Concert Spirituel's choir and orchestra
Hervé Niquet Conductor

Timing : 2h with intermission

A Requiem for two rivals

It is not easy to put the names of Mozart and Salieri together on the same programme without falling into the clichés and rumours that have been spread for two centuries. Let's get the obvious out of the way: yes, when Mozart arrived in Vienna in 1781 without official status, he was envious of Salieri's prerogatives, who had been living in the imperial city for nearly twenty years, official court musician and director of the theatres since 1774. Yes, the success of Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio in the face of the failure of his own singspiel, Der Rauchfankehrer - also premiered in Vienna - was a camouflet for Salieri. But at the same time, yes, the poisoning theory (which has been propagated since the Romantic period) has been repeatedly contradicted by reason, as has the allegedly prophetic commissioning of the Requiem; and yes, the two composers held each other in high esteem, as revealed, among other things, by the anecdote of a Mozart who was so happy to have seen Salieri in awe at a performance of his Magic Flute to which he had taken him. 

We should not therefore consider these two Requiems as a fierce competition between two musical monsters, one of whom is the misunderstood and the other a schemer who is fairly comfortable on his laurels. On the contrary, both of them, though of different and distinct inspirations and almost fifteen years old, are masterpieces of Viennese classicism - that mixture of Italian writing and Germanic structure, of contrasting wit and common tonal foundations. To assemble these two Requiems in a single concert - something unheard of in France at the moment - is to show the full effectiveness of this writing of an era, in the service of an idea that has always surpassed mankind: death, the afterlife, hope.

Note Thomas Tacquet