KURSK : An Oratorio Requiem
by David Chisholm (2011)
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Library shelf no. 782.23/CHI 1 [Available for loan]
KURSK: An Oratorio Requiem is a musical memorial to the men who lost their lives on August 12th, 2000, when the Russian submarine KURSK sank in the Barents Sea.
KURSK takes formal vestiges and conditions from both oratorio and requiem. Composed for forces of Bass-Baritone and Soprano soloists, 8 voice male consort and chamber orchestra of 27 featuring solo ¼ tone Flugel Horn, KURSK draws on oratorios marked differentiation from opera - that of limited character development and interaction. An orchestral overture, a signature device of oratorio (and often opera) appears as a virtuosic ¼ tone Flugelhorn concerto for Tristram Williams, splintered across KURSK as a series of instrumental ruptures.
From requiem KURSK draws on the mood and intent of a mass for the departed, as well as its flexible multi-movement structure. KURSK is secular in its text, yet sacred in its intent. KURSK is sung in Russian, its text drawn selectively from the oeuvre of Anzhelina Polonskaya, and sequentially built to suit the musico-dramaturgical needs of the oratorio requiem in consultation and collaboration with this internationally lauded poet. The central soloist is The Sailor (Bass-Baritone), who is framed and supported by a consort of eight solo male voices. The musical language of KURSK weaves echo threads of Ural, Cossack, and Russian musical antecedents, across a neomodernist orchestral frame. Appearing through the work with ever increasing proximity is the offstage Siren (Soprano). She appears onstage at the end of the work as Angel, breaking the dark tone of the work with a bleak ambivalence.
Instrumentation: Vocal Soloists: bass-baritone, soprano ; Instrumental Soloist: 1/4 tone flugelhorn/Bb trumpet ; Male Consort: 4 tenors, 2 baritones, 2 basses ; Orchestra: 2 flutes (both doubling piccolo), Bb clarinet/bass/contrabass clarinet, contrabassoon, Wagner tuba/French horn, trombone, bass trombone, tuba, timpani/percussion, percussion, harp, prepared piano, strings (184.108.40.206.2). Strings may be augmented to 6-6-6-6-4.
Duration: 95 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Virtuosic writing across all instruments and singers
Contents note: 1. Song of the Fallen Heroes -- 2. Lacrimosa dies illa -- 3. Ship of the Universe -- 4. Tuba, mirum spargens sonum -- 5. A Bar, Soldiers and Death -- 6. Quantus tremor est futurus -- 7. The Gale -- 8. Quem patronum rogaturus, cum vix justus sit securus? -- 9. Deathsquad Doctor -- 10. The sea has neither swans nor bedrooms -- 11. Atlantica -- 12. In paradisum deducant te Angeli -- 13. Woman and Ship -- 14. Into nowhere, into no love, into the golden rye -- 15. For I am the sea.
Commission note: The work received the support of Melbourne Festival, Melbourne Recital Centre, Arts Victoria, Australia Council for the Arts, City of Melbourne, Robert Salzer Foundation, Sofitel Melbourne, and the Camargo Foundation
KURSK: an oratorio requiem (excerpts)
The Making of Kursk: An Oratorio Requiem
Performances of this work
27 Feb 2010: at KURSK (Melbourne Recital Centre, Primrose Potter Salon).
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