Judith Weir's Sanctus is part of the Requiem of Reconciliation commissioned from fourteen composers of different nationalities by the International Bach Academy in Stuttgart under its director Helmuth Rilling, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the ending of World War II. Composers representing most but not all of the nations involved in that conflict were invited to contribute one movement each; amongst those taking part were Berio, Penderecki,Schnittke and Kurtag.
The idea of a composite composition on this scale was inspired by Rilling's performances of the Messa per Rossini initiated by Verdi and written by thirteen Italian composers in 1869 to commemorate the first anniversary of Rossini's death (Verdi's own contribution on that occasion was the Libera Me, which later became the basis of his own complete Requiem setting). The resulting Requiem of Reconciliation, dedicated to the victims of the Second World War, was first performed in Stuttgart on 16th August 1995 by an international cast of soloists, the Stuttgart Gächinger Kantorei, the Krakow Chamber Choir and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Helmut Rilling. It was recorded and subsequently released on CD by South-West German Radio.
The Sanctus was first performed separately during the Last Night of the Proms in London on September 13 1997, by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Andrew Davis.
Judith Weir's Sanctus is set for soprano and mezzo soprano soloists, chorus and large orchestra. Her setting, which falls into three sections, quotes the Gregorian chant associated with the text, while the musical fabric evolves from the natural rhythmic flow of the Latin text, notably a quintuplet figure associated with the five syllables of the words 'Sanctus Dominus' and 'Deus Sabaoth'.
© Judith Weir
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