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University Chorus performs music by Mozart, Beethoven, Lloyd Webber on Friday

Jeffrey Thomas will conduct the UC Davis University Chorus when it performs choral works from three of the biggest names in Baroque music at 7 p.m. Friday in Jackson Hall. Courtesy photo

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From page A9 | December 05, 2012 | Leave Comment

The UC Davis University Chorus will team up with the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra and the Pacific Boychoir for a concert featuring music from three centuries at 7 p.m. Friday in the Mondavi Center’s Jackson Hall.

Anchoring the program will be two big works — the Choral Fantasy by Ludwig van Beethoven (Op. 80), and the setting of the Requiem by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The Choral Fantasy is a piece that Beethoven wrote in some haste in 1808, featuring chorus, piano, winds, strings and timpany. It contains many of the themes and ideas that he would return to more than a decade later in the final movement of his Ninth Symphony.

“The earlier work (the Choral Fantasy) is doomed to pale by this comparison,” said conductor Jeffrey Thomas. “Indeed, the Choral Fantasy seems like a little sibling considering the scope and texture of the symphony. But if we remember that the Choral Fantasy came first — by about 16 years — we realize not only what a completely satisfying work it is, but also that it is truly the model upon which the Ninth is based.

“The similarities are obvious to the listener, but scratching beneath the surface reveals a plethora of identical idiomatic idiosyncracies and compositional rhetoric.”

Lloyd Webber, famous for his showtunes in musicals like “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera,” decided to compose his setting of the Requiem following his father’s death in 1982; his father had been a church organist in London and director of the London College of Music. The completed Requiem premiered in 1985.

“The scoring of three soloists — a boy as soprano, a girl as soprano and a man as tenor — was inspired by a newspaper article about a Cambodian boy and his sister,” Thomas said. “Lloyd Webber wrote the tenor solo for Placido Domingo in order to provide for a greater melodic range.”

The Requiem’s motet, “Pie Jesu,” became quite popular and is often performed on its own.

“Just as other composers who have set the Requiem Mass, Lloyd Webber omits sections of the Mass text,” Thomas observed. “The work opens with low brass and flute, followed by the boy soprano’s melody.”

Once under way, Lloyd Webber works in traditional sections including the Kyrie and Ofertorium, and combines the Hosanna with the Benedictus, omitting the Agnus Dei.

“At one point, the rhythm of electric drums enters in the pop music style of the 1970s. The boy soprano returns to close the work,” Thomas said.

Also on the program will be the setting of the “Te Deum” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, composed in 1769, when Mozart was a boy of 13. Thomas notes that the teenage Mozart patterned his work after a setting of the “Te Deum” composed a few years earlier by Michael Haydn, the less-well-known brother of Josepf Haydn. Many different composers have created settings of the “Te Deum,” stretching back as far as the 6th century.

The program also will feature the “Laudate Dominum” from Mozart’s ”Vesperae solennes de confessore,” K. 339,  a more mature work composed in 1779.

Tickets are $12-$17 general, $8 for students, available at www.mondaviarts.org or 530-754-2787.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at jhudson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8055.

 

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