Prom 10‘s all-Verdi line up tonight was to celebrate the great operatic composer’s 200th birthday earlier this year. There’ll be more Verdi featured later in this year’s Proms season, but tonight showcased some of his great sacred music.
First up was Verdi’s String Quartet (version for string orchestra) (arr. C.Hermann). This was the only string quartet that Verdi wrote, and I’m not sure why, because it’s quite good! It is quite different from the Verdi that everyone’s used to: that is, big, bold and operatic, but it’s very good. I like the quick tempo and I thought that the Orchestra of the Academy of Santa Cecilia, the same orchestra as for Prom 10, played this very well.
The second piece was Verdi’s Ave Maria. There are a number of settings of Ave Maria, but this was not one I can recall hearing before, probably because, as the Proms team wrote on their Twitter account, this is the ‘rarely heard Italian Ave Maria‘, which would explain why I don’t recall having heard it! This was short and sweet, and soprano Maria Agresta sang well.
The third piece of the first act was Verdi’s Requiem – Libera me (original version). I’m not sure why, but I thought this was going to include this (footage from Proms 2011 season). Had it not been in the ads for this Prom on BBC Radio 3? Or perhaps the full Verdi Requiem was going to be on ABC Classic FM, so I’d heard ads featuring it on there? I’m not sure. Anyway, I did enjoy this, and the Chorus of the AoSC did very well (they were also excellent in Act II).
Act II featured Verdi’s Four Sacred Pieces. I used to not be a very big fan of sacred/choral music, mostly because I didn’t understand it. However, when I went to England and went to the big old Cathedrals/Abbeys, and heard Choristers rehearsing in York Minister, I suddenly ‘got’ it, and now quite enjoy it when in the mood for it. The Four Sacred Pieces were beautifully performed by the Orchestra and Chorus of the Academy of Santa Cecilia. Music like this is lovely to listen to on a cold old Sunday afternoon. Just lovely.