Dvořák – Stabat Mater
Sat, 1 April 2017
St Albans Bach Choir
Antonin Dvořák's Stabat Mater deserves to be heard and performed much more often. It was composed between 1876 and 1877 following the deaths of Dvořák's three children, and was one of his earlier choral works, his first on a religious theme. First performed in Prague in 1880, it came to London in 1883 and was well received. Dvořák himself was invited to conduct it at the Albert Hall the following year, the composer’s first big triumph abroad. He wrote to a friend “When I appeared on the rostrum I was welcomed with a long, thunderous applause ... I was profoundly moved ... I couldn’t speak a word; there would’ve been no use in it since no-one would have understood me ... But I must briefly mention the size of the orchestra and the choir. There are 250 sopranos, 160 altos, 180 tenors, and 250 basses; the orchestral sections were also impressive: 24 first violins, 20 second violins, 16 violas, 16 cellos, 16 double basses.” St Albans Bach Choir’s performance will use rather smaller forces, but hopefully the reception will be as enthusiastic!
The text is from the 13th century and describes Mary’s thoughts on her son’s crucifixion on the cross, giving a peculiarly human pathos to the Biblical story. As set by Dvořák, the work touches us as gently human, filled with humility. The whole work has an unusually sublime musical expression, free from triviality or superficial effects. The score is particularly valued for its beauty, deliberately drawing on the combination of human voices and rich orchestral colour. The work is in 10 parts, for orchestra, choir and soloists, with the choir featuring in seven of the movements. Although the literary source of the oratorio speaks of the darker aspects of human life, the overall tone of the work is generally positive. Despite the personal tragedy he had experienced shortly before, the composer refuses to allow despair to overwhelm him; his music reflects neither resignation nor hopelessness. In this, Dvořák's masterpiece, we look through a veil of tears and see faith in life.
St Albans Bach Choir has been performing since 1924: recent programmes have included Carl Orff’s CarminaBurana, Verdi’s Requiem (also in London's Cadogan Hall), Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, and in July 2016 the choir joined forces with the St Albans Cathedral Choirs to present Bach's Mass in B minor with The English Concert. In 2013, as part of the St Albans International Organ Festival’s fiftieth anniversary celebrations, the choir performed Britten’s War Requiem with the Britten Sinfonia, conducted by Sir Richard Armstrong. In December 2013, and again in 2015, the choir joined John Rutter and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for their popular carol concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. The choir was also represented onstage at the Albert Hall for last year's BBC Big Sing programme on Christmas Day.
Classic - £25 - Centre middle with full view (Classic seats in other areas have a slight restricted view)
Standard Plus - £18 - Centre back with full view (Standard Plus seat in other areas have a restricted view)
No View - £12 - mainly located in the aisles or behind pillars (these seats have no view of the stage)
No view seats will only be released when seats with views have sold out.
Wheelchair spaces and carer discounts can only be booked through the Box Office. Please call 01727 890290 or visit the Cathedral.
Entry by the Chapter House (subject to change). Doors open 7.00pm. Performance starts 7.30pm and ends approximately 9.30pm. There will be an interval of 20 minutes during this performance.
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