There are few things that can link the output and styles of Italy's Giuseppe Verdi and the German Richard Wagner, two giants of 19th-century opera, but if they had ever met, they perhaps would have found a mutual affinity in their passion for the pleasures of good cooking and fine wines.
But musically speaking? A sentence from each suffices to illustrate their 'congenial' feelings for the other's work. After hearing Verdi's Requiem, Wagner simply noted laconically, 'Best not to say anything about it.' Much more tactful and accepting than his contemporary, Verdi (who, upon hearing the overture to Tannhäuser, still pronounced it a 'mad' work) delivered an opinion that was not free of delicate irony: 'I have great admiration for Wagner. Whatever one may say, there is melody in Wagn...er; but you have to know where to find it.'
A Quattro pezzi sacri sets the composer's entire oeuvre into an interesting framework, as it is can be regarded as almost an equivalent to Messa di Gloria, his first major piece and the one that launched his career. The work is in fact a loose series of compositions dating from different periods in his life, of which three are written to liturgical text (Ave Maria, Stabat Mater, Te Deum), and another (Laudi alla Vergine Maria), to excerpts from Paradiso in Dante's Divine Comedy.
Die Walküre is the second piece in an opera tetralogy that is often played as an independent work. The composer also wrote the libretto for the Ring of the Nibelung cycle, which draws on intricate stories about mortal and supernatural characters from the world of German legends. The excerpt to be performed at the concert is the ending of the opera's third act: the scene of Wotan's Farewell and the Magic Fire Music.
Presented by: Zugló Philharmonic
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