Verdi's Requiem

The New York Philharmonic

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Verdi's Requiem

Recorded February 21, 2013

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Conductor

Alan Gilbert

Alan Gilbert, former Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, launches a new appointment as chief conductor designate of Hamburg’s NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra this fall, shortly after the opening of its already iconic new home. The Grammy Award–winning conductor previously served as principal guest conductor of the orchestra (then known as NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg) for more than a decade, and will assume the role of chief conductor in September 2019. This position follows his truly transformative eight-year tenure as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, during which, through such key initiatives as the NY PHIL BIENNIAL, he succeeded in making the Orchestra a leader on the cultural landscape. Alan Gilbert is also conductor laureate of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and the founder and president of Musicians for Unity. With the endorsement and guidance of the United Nations, this new organization will bring together musicians from around the world to perform in support of peace, development, and human rights.

Alan Gilbert makes regular guest appearances with orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. He has led operatic productions for Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Zurich Opera, Royal Swedish Opera, and Santa Fe Opera, where he was the inaugural music director.

His discography includes The Nielsen Project, a box set recorded with the New York Philharmonic, and John Adams’s Doctor Atomic, captured on DVD at The Metropolitan Opera, for which he won a Grammy Award. He received Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Music Direction in PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center broadcasts of two star-studded New York Philharmonic productions: of Sweeney Todd and Sinatra: Voice for a Century.

Alan Gilbert has received Honorary Doctor of Music degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and Westminster Choir College, as well as Columbia University’s Ditson Conductor’s Award. He is a member of The American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and was named an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. At The Juilliard School, he is the first holder of the William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies and serves as Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies. After giving the annual Royal Philharmonic Society Lecture on Orchestras in the 21st Century: A New Paradigm during the New York Philharmonic’s EUROPE / SPRING 2015 tour, he received a 2015 Foreign Policy Association Medal for his commitment to cultural diplomacy.

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Soprano

Angela Meade

American soprano Angela Meade is the recipient of the 2012 Beverly Sills Artist Award from The Metropolitan Opera and the 2011 Richard Tucker Award. She made her professional operatic debut at The Metropolitan Opera as Elvira in Verdi’s Ernani substituting for an ill colleague in March 2008. She had previously sung on the Met stage as one of the winners of the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, a process that is documented in the film The Audition and released on DVD by Decca. Highlights of her 2014–15 season include a return to The Metropolitan Opera as Elvira in Verdi’s Ernani opposite Plácido Domingo, conducted by James Levine, and her acclaimed interpretation of the title role in Bellini’s Norma for her debut in Seville. On the concert stage, she tours with the orchestra of the Teatro Regio di Torino under Gianandrea Noseda for concert performances as Mathilde in Rossini’s William Tell in Chicago, Toronto, Ann Arbor, and at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Also this season, she returns to The Philadelphia Orchestra for Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with Yannick Nézet-Séguin in Philadelphia and at Carnegie Hall, and performs Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Donald Runnicles. Additional projects include a studio recording of Donizetti’s rarely performed Le Duc d’Albe with Opera Rara in London and a New York joint recital under the auspices of the George London Foundation. Angela Meade is a native of Washington State and an alumnus of the Academy of Vocal Arts.

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Mezzo-Soprano

Lili Passikivi

Finnish mezzo-soprano Lilli Paasikivi is one of the world’s leading interpreters of Mahler’s song cycles and symphonies; performances have included Das Lied von der Erde and Des Knaben Wunderhorn with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen), Symphony No. 2 with the Royal Swedish Philharmonic Orchestra (Sakari Oramo), Symphony No. 3 with the London Symphony Orchestra (Paavo Järvi), Symphony No. 8 with the Berlin Philharmonic (Simon Rattle), Kindertotenlieder with the New World Symphony (Michal Tilson Thomas), and Das Lied von der Erde with London Philharmonic Orchestra (Mark Elder). Concert performances this season include her debut with the Minnesota Orchestra in Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été led by Osmo Vänskä. Since making her debut with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic as Fricka in the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence’s Ring Cycle production, Wagnerian roles have become central to Ms. Paasikivi’s stage work, with notable performances at La Monnaie (as Brangäne), Hamburgische Staatsoper (as Fricka), and Oper Frankfurt (as Kundry). At the Finnish National Opera she has sung the roles of Carmen, Amneris, and Eboli, and she made her house debuts at Opéra National de Lyon as Der Komponist (Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos) and at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence in the World Premiere of Toshio Hosokawa’s Hanjo. Ms. Paasikivi’s discography includes Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius (conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy); Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 with Leipzig’s Gewandhaus Orchestra (Riccardo Chailly); Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with the Philharmonia Orchestra (Benjamin Zander); Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the London Symphony Orchestra (Valery Gergiev); Sibelius’s Kullervo (Osmo Vänskä); and Alma Mahler’s Complete Songs arranged and conducted by Jorma Panula. Lilli Paasikivi is the artistic director of the Finnish National Opera.

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Tenor

Brandon Jovanovich

Tenor Brandon Jovanovich opened the 2014–15 season at San Francisco Opera as Sam in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah in a new production by Michael Cavanagh. He then returned to The Metropolitan Opera as Sergei in Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, led by James Conlon. His upcoming appearances this season include Walter in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s The Passenger and a reprise of his acclaimed performance as Florestan in Beethoven’s Fidelio at Opernhaus Zurich, led by Fabio Luisi. Mr. Jovanovich’s orchestral engagements include Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony, both led by Michael Tilson Thomas; Dvořák’s Stabat Mater with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal; concert performances of Fidelio with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony; and his New York Philharmonic debut in Verdi’s Requiem. Highlights of recent seasons include the Prince in David McVicar’s new production of Dvořák’s Rusalka at Lyric Opera of Chicago; Don José in Bizet’s Carmen at LA Opera conducted by Plácido Domingo, The Dallas Opera with Emmanuel Villaume, Opernhaus Zurich with Vasily Petrenko, and in a new production at Houston Grand Opera; the title role in Wagner’s Lohengrin at San Francisco Opera with Nicola Luisotti; Florestan in a new production of Fidelio by Andreas Homoki at Opernhaus Zurich, led by Fabio Luisi, and at the Verbier Festival with Marc Minkowski; Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at LA Opera; the Chevalier des Grieux in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at La Monnaie in Brussels; and Sergei in a new production of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk with Opernhaus Zurich. 

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Bass-Baritone

Eric Owens by Dario Acosta

Bass-baritone Eric Owens is an esteemed interpreter of classic works and a champion of new music, equally at home in orchestral, recital, and operatic repertoire.

In the 2018–19 season, Mr. Owens returns to Lyric Opera of Chicago to make his role debut as the Wanderer in David Poutney’s new production of Wagner’s Siegfried. He also stars as Porgy in James Robinson’s new production of the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess at Dutch National Opera and makes his role debut as Hagen in Wagner’s Götterdämmerung at The Metropolitan Opera conducted by Philippe Jordan. Concert appearances include the World Premiere of David Lang’s prisoner of the state with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Jaap van Zweden, the King in Verdi’s Aida with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Muti, the Verdi Requiem with the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Mozart Requiem with Music of the Baroque. Mr. Owens will also go on a multi-city recital tour with tenor Lawrence Brownlee.

Eric Owens’s career operatic highlights include: Alberich in The Metropolitan Opera’s Ring Cycle directed by Robert Lepage; Orest in Patrice Chereau’s production of R. Strauss’s Elektra conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen at The Met; the title role in Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman and Filippo in Verdi’s Don Carlo at Washington National Opera; his San Francisco Opera debut in Verdi’s Otello conducted by Donald Runnicles; his Royal Opera, Covent Garden, debut in Bellini’s Norma; Vodnik in Dvořák’s Rusalka and Porgy in Porgy and Bess at Lyric Opera of Chicago; the title role of Handel’s Hercules with the Canadian Opera Company; Aida at Houston Grand Opera; Verdi’s Rigoletto and Il Trovatore as well as Puccini’s La bohème at Los Angeles Opera; Mozart’s The Magic Flute for his Paris Opera debut; the title role of Verdi’s Macbeth at the Glimmerglass Festival; and Handel’s Ariodante and Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea at the English National Opera.

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Chorus

Founded in 1979 by Joseph Flummerfelt, the New York Choral Artists has since then been a regular part of the New York Philharmonic season. Its many collaborations with the Orchestra include a memorial performance of Brahms’s A German Requiem, conducted by Kurt Masur, immediately following the events of 9/11. In more recent years, appearances have included Britten’s War Requiem and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 led by Lorin Maazel. Highlights of Philharmonic collaborations under the direction of Alan Gilbert include Bach’s B-minor Mass, Beethoven’s Missa solemnis, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Ligeti’s Le Grande Macabre, and in January 2015, the Verdi Requiem. Noteworthy among its Philharmonic recordings are the Grammy-nominated release of Mahler Symphony No. 3 conducted by Bernstein, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 with Masur, and John Adams’s Grammy Award–winning On the Transmigration of Souls with Maazel. In 2014 the New York Choral Artists also appeared with the Vienna Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony in Carnegie Hall. Jacqueline Pierce is the group’s manager.

Learn more about New York Choral Artists, Joseph Flummerfelt, director

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Director

Joseph Flummerfelt

For more than 40 seasons Joseph Flummerfelt has been preparing choral performances for the New York Philharmonic. Named Conductor of the Year in 2004 by Musical America, he is the founder and musical director of the New York Choral Artists, and was an artistic director of the Spoleto Festival USA for 37 years and conductor of the Westminster Choir for 33 years. He has collaborated with such conductors as Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, Chailly, Colin Davis, Alan Gilbert, Carlo Maria Giulini, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Robert Shaw, and William Steinberg. Dr. Flummerfelt’s choirs have been featured on 45 recordings, including Grammy Award–winning versions of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with Bernstein, Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra, and John Adams’s On the Transmigration of Souls. He has also received two Grammy nominations, and his Delos recording of Brahms’s choral works — Singing for Pleasure, with the Westminster Choir — was chosen by The New York Times as a favorite among Brahms recordings. Joseph Flummerfelt’s honors include Le Prix du Président de la République from L’Académie du Disque Français and five honorary doctoral degrees. He is sought out as a guest conductor and master teacher of choral conducting in New York and throughout the United States.

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Requiem

GIUSEPPE VERDI (1813–1901)
Requiem (1873)

Verdi composed his massive Requiem for the first anniversary of the death of poet Alessandro Manzoni, a fellow nationalist whom he revered deeply. It has become a truism to say that this dramatic Mass for the Dead is more operatic than liturgical (the great conductor Hans von Bülow called it Verdi’s “latest opera, in church vestments”), but one cannot resist doing so. This music expresses fear, piety, supplication, and hope, and its dynamic range extends from softest pianissimos to bone-rattling fortissimos. The raging ferocity of the “Dies irae” (“Day of Wrath”) movement alone is a stunning 40 minutes in length. The Offertory, performed by four soloists without chorus, ends radiantly, expressing hope that the soul may find eternal life. Verdi scores the “Sanctus” for double orchestra and double chorus, creating a whirlwind of brilliant music. After a huge climax, the work ends with the soprano’s almost spoken plea: “Libera me” (“Deliver me, o Lord”), marked in the score morendo (“dying away”). Brahms declared the Requiem “a work of genius,” and Verdi’s wife, who can be forgiven her bias, stated: “Posterity will place it, with wings outspread, in domination of all the music of mourning ever conceived by the human brain.”

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