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Stevenson - Bodorova - String Quartets

Her haunting Terezín Ghetto Requiem of 1997 (commissioned by the Warwick Festival) is a triumph of the imagination. Referring to actual events – the approximately twenty performances of the Verdi Requiem in 1943-44 at Terezín – Bodorová’s piece uses excerpts from both Jewish and Catholic liturgical texts.Bodorová’s own account of her visit to Terezín in September 1997 to hear Verdi’s Requiem is reprinted in the booklet. Her stated aim – ‘I want my music to contribute … to the ideal of tolerance and humanity’ – is laudable in the extreme.The Terezín Ghetto Requiem is scored for baritone and string quartet. Its three movements (Lacrymosa, Dies irae and Libera me) last a total of just over a quarter of an hour in total. The opening Lacrymosa quotes from Verdi’s Requiem and the Jewish prayer Shema Israel. The careful use of widely-spaced chords, the delicate atmosphere and the pure first violin of Lubomír Havlák all contribute to the resultant intense concentration. Nigel Cliffe (a member of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden) declaims to perfection.The Dies irae text is almost spat out by Cliffe, contrasting with the gentle, hushed ‘Libera me’. Cliffe’s voice is focused as he intones the words on a single note. The repetitions of the word ‘Domine’ at 2’20 in this final movement are imbued with a certain desperation which perhaps could have been even more shattering in effect than Cliffe manages, but nevertheless this is an unforgettable piece.
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