If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Friday, 12 February 2010

Tear jerker

Having played my Christmas present (a John Williams and Julian Bream guitar compilation) over and over until it was almost worn out, I decided to change the CD in the car player. And what should fall to hand but a copy of Fauré's Requiem.

If you don't know this piece, it's delightful. It is a treatment of the Requiem Mass, but with Fauré's light touch. It is musically dramatic, but has little of the anguish and pain of Verdi or the the passion of Brahms. It's a joyful piece, almost a lullaby. Death not as torment or fear, but as a happy release, a deliverance.

There is one part of it that I think is possibly the most beautiful sequence of harmonies ever written, by anyone, at any time, in the world in space, as Molesworth sa. At the end of the second movement, Offertoire, there is one minute and nine seconds of pure bliss.

Ne cadant in obscurum

Nor let them fall into darkness,

The choir sing the ne cadant part with slightly dissonant harmony, which gives a sense of unease and discomfort. This leads into the Amen, which is written with a soaring soprano melody, underpinned by the other voices, which rise in parallel and then interweave beneath, finally resolving through a simple perfect cadence into the final chord. It ends in a perfect place, reached by the perfect path. Every time I hear it, I feel that prickle at the back of the eyes.

If you want to know the piece of music that should be playing as I depart this world, that will be it.

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