Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Looking a head: Requiems for a doomed monarchy

Memorial to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, sculptures by Edme Gaulle and Pierre Petitot in the Basilica of Saint-Denis
Memorial to Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette,
sculptures by Edme Gaulle & Pierre Petitot
in the Basilica of Saint-Denis
On 25 January 2019, Hervé Niquet conducts Le Concert Spirituel in a concert at the Barbican which brings out the restored French monarchy's commemoration of the executions of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, with requiems by Cherubini and Plantade, alongside Berlioz' Tristia.

Cherubini's Requiem in C minor was written in 1816 for a commemoration service in memory of King Louis XVI, performed in 1817 on the 23rd anniversary of his execution when the bodies of both the King and his Queen were re-interred at the Basilica of St Denis. The requiem, unusually, used a mixed chorus with women's voices and was utimately prohibited for liturgical use by the Archbishop of Paris (women were not supposed to sing in church), which led Cherubini to write his second requiem, in D minor, which uses a four-part chorus of men's voices.

Whilst Cherubini's requiem is moderately well known and was highly admired by Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms, the requiem by Plantade is far less known. It was first performed in 1823 at a service to mark the 30th anniversary of the Queen's execution, but was probably written earlier. Plantade actually knew the Queen as in his youth he had been selected by Gluck to sing duos with Marie-Antoinette (whom Gluck had known when she was a young Princess in Vienna where he worked for the Imperial family).   Hervé Niquet and Le Concert Spirituel's recent recording of the Cherubini and Plantade requiems seems to be the only recording of the Plantade (available from Amazon).

Full details of the concert from the Barbican website

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