Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sir Colin Davis, RIP

Before the English Reformation and the Catholic Martyrs of England and Wales became my main focus of attention, classical music and opera were my passions. The death of Sir Colin Davis on Sunday, April 14, really struck me, primarily because he conducted two of my favorite recordings--two very different works:

This Philips Silver Line recording of Mozart's Requiem is a great performance of this unfinished work (the Sussmayer edition). The BBC Symphony Orchestra, John Alldis Choir, and the soloists, including Helen Donath, all follow Davis's lead in this dynamic, dramatic, and grand performance. Some of the sections of the Dies Irae--the Lacrimosa, the Rex Tremendae, the Confutatis, are just brilliantly exciting and moving. Davis makes the contrasts of the Day of Wrath completely evident.

I have listened to this 1980 opera recording of Von Stade and Carreras so often that I've nearly memorized it. It was made after performances at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and that stage background shows in the drama and passion, restraint and lyricism of von Stade's performance especially. She is certainly not Goethe's Lotte, cutting bread as Werther's body passes. After all the romanticism and restraint of Acts 1 through 3 (even with Charlotte's break down aria, "Va! laisse couler mes larmes"), Davis, Von Stade, and Carreras certainly help us suspend our disbelief that a man who just shot himself can sing for 15 minutes! (You can see Von Stade and Alfredo Kraus in this video from the Met in 1988 just to see how it's done onstage.)

May Sir Colin Davis rest in peace.

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