For "La forza del destino", Verdi created one of his most famous melodies, the "fate" motif that permeates the whole of the score. Music and action alternate in masterly fashion between large-scale crowd scenes and intimate interiority, in that way illustrating Verdi's real theme: the manner in which fallible human beings are destroyed by a cruel fate.
First performed at the Burgtheater in Vienna in 1776 La passione di nostro Signore Gesu Cristo is a work of Salieri’s early maturity. It’s a passion oratorio but one that gorges on operatic convention to make its powerfully dramatic points. If it’s further to be anatomised, the traditional recitative-aria and solo and chorus block voicings also faithfully follow operatic form and so Azione sacra is as good a term as oratorio to describe Salieri’s work.
These three masses are early works but Bruckner had already gestated into Bruckner by the time of their composition. His symphonies regularly quote motifs from these works; they resonated in his mind down the years (and in fact, the F Minor Mass was written as a palliative gesture when the poor bugger was madder than usual).
Recorded live at a concert in the large hall of the Musikverein in Vienna in November 1991, this performance of Verdi’s dramatic Requiem is really commanding. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the chorus of the Vienna State Opera respond appropriately to Abbado’s exciting but not over-operatic handling of the work, and the recording is admirably clear. The soloists are a fine and well-matched quartet.
Nicholas McGegan has done more for the early music movement in America than nearly anyone else, and his tireless explorations of the byways of Baroque opera have put many fascinating works into the concert hall and onto recordings. He studied piano at London's Trinity College of Music and learned to play the flute while he was there, but entertained no special desire to study historical performance.