About this Recording
8.554749 - CHERUBINI, L.: Requiem No. 1 in C Minor / Marche funebre (Radio Svizzera Choir and Orchestra, Fasolis)

Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842)

Marche funèbre (1820); Requiem in C minor (1816)

Luigi Cherubini was born in Florence in 1760, the tenth of the twelve children of the theatre harpsichordist at the Teatro della Pergola, his first teacher. As a child he had further instruction from leading Florentine composers and had an early composition, a Mass, performed in 1773, continuing in adolescence to write further church music and a smaller number of secular dramatic works. In 1778, after the performance of his cantata La pubblica felicità (‘Public Happiness’) in honour of the Grand Duke Leopold of Tuscany, he was awarded by the latter the means of further study with the well-known opera composer Giuseppe Sarti, a former pupil of Padre Martini. Cherubini's period with Sarti in Bologna and in Milan, where his teacher was maestro di cappella at the Cathedral and distinguished at the Teatro della Scala, brought the chance to compose operas for Florence and other Italian cities. In 1784 and 1785 he was in London, where he won success in the theatre, and from there he travelled to Paris. It was through the violinist and impresario Viotti, established in that city, that Cherubini was presented to Queen Marie Antoinette and in 1786 he settled in France, collaborating with Viotti under the patronage of the King's brother at the Théâtre de Monsieur at the Tuileries, before his great success with the opera Lodoïska at Viotti's new Théâtre Feydeau, a venture curtailed at the Revolution, when Viotti took refuge in London and the wine-trade.

After a period of retirement to the countryside, Cherubini returned to Paris in 1793, eventually finding employment as an inspector at the new Institut National de Musique, the future Conservatoire. The decade brought settings of texts approved by the new, secular régime and operatic success with what remains his best known opera, Médée (‘Medea’), and with Les deux joumées (‘The Two Days’), an opera that had its effect on Beethoven's own later Fidelio, the first performance of which Cherubini attended during a successful visit to Vienna in 1805. Napoleon's occupation of the city in that year and the unexpected favour he now showed to Cherubini, after earlier coldness, led the composer to return to Paris, where at first he found relief in activities other than music. The restoration of the monarchy after Napoleon's defeat brought him appointment in 1816 as a superintendent of the King's music under his former patron, now Louis XVIII. In these years Cherubini had begun to turn his attention once again to church music, notably with the Solemn Mass in C major and the Requiem in C minor of 1816. Further official honours followed, with significant appointment in 1822 as director of the Conservatoire, a position he held with distinction until a few weeks before his death in 1842.

Cherubini wrote his Requiem in C minor in 1815 and 1816 for a commemoration of the death of Louis XVI, executed by the revolutionaries, and it was first performed in the Crypt of Saint-Denis on 21st January 1816. The suggested revival of the work in 1834 at the death of Cherubini's former pupil, the composer Boieldieu, and the objection of the Archbishop of Paris to the use of women's and men's voices together in a liturgical performance led Cherubini to write a second Requiem in 1836, scored for men's voices and heard, as he had intended, at his own obsequies. The Requiem in C minor won high praise from Cherubini's contemporaries and successors, admired by Beethoven and by Berlioz, acclaimed by Schumann and by Brahms.

The opening motif of the Introit, heard from bassoons and cellos, sets the mood of solemn mourning and provides a unifying element for the Introit and Kyrie movement. Cherubini offers a setting of the Gradual as a G minor second movement, here scored for the four-part chorus with violas, cellos and double basses. The contrasting entry of the brass and the resonant sound of the gong herald the Dies irae, a dramatic evocation of the end of the world, with the sound of the last trump. Written as one movement, the traditional sequence allows its own changes of mood, as suggested by the text. The words Tuba mirum spargens sonum and Rex tremendae majestatis bring dynamic climaxes, offset by the gentler feeling of Salva me, fons pietatis, before the outburst of sound at the words Confutatis maledictis, the pleading of Voca me cum benedictis and the intensity of the final Largo, at the words

Lacrymosa dies ilIa. The Offertory is set in the key of E flat major, with an ethereal moment at the words Sed signifer sanctus Michael, as the Archangel leads the souls of the departed into eternal light. The movement follows tradition with a fugal setting of Quam olim Abrahae and here, as elsewhere, there seem memories of Mozart's great setting of the Requiem, a work that Cherubini himself had introduced to Paris in 1805. There is respite as prayers and sacrifice are offered, Hostias et preces tibi, Domine, laudis offerimus, a Larghetto, after which the vigorous Quam olim Abrahae promisisti returns. The A flat major Sanctus, couched in relatively conventional terms, is followed by a moving F minor setting of the Pie Jesu, words that had concluded the Dies irae. The whole work is crowned by the final Agnus Dei, in which the original key is restored, to end in a final C major as a concluding prayer is offered for all those whose memory is celebrated, the King himself and his family and many subjects who had died in the revolution.

Cherubini's Marche funèbre was written in 1820, the year of the assassination of the Duc de Berry, son of the future Charles X. It is one of a number of works written for the royal chapel and is scored for a large orchestra, without flutes, which Cherubini, in any case, disliked, but with a woodwind section that includes a double bassoon and a percussion section that makes use of a gong. This last is heard at the outset, before a roll of drums and the melancholy descending motif and ascending answering phrase. Gong and drums are used to punctuate the solemn march, as it proceeds.

Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842)

Marche funèbre (1820) • Requiem In C minor (1816)


Introitus et Kyrie: Requiem aeternam Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine:

et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Te decet hymnus Dells, in Sion,

et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem:

exaudi orationem meam,

ad te omnis caro veniet.

Kyrie eleison:

Christe eleison:

Kyrie eleison.

Grant them eternal rest, O Lord,

and may perpetual light shine on them.

Thou, O God, art praised in Sion,

and unto Thee shall the vow be performed in Jerusalem.

Hear my prayer,

unto Thee shall all flesh come.

Lord have mercy upon us.

Christ have mercy upon us.

Lord have mercy upon us.


Graduale: Requiem aeternam

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,

et lux perpetua luceat eis,

in memoria aeterna erit justus,

ab auditione mala non timebit.

Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord,

and let perpetual light shine upon them,

the just shall always be remembered,

and shall fear no evil report.


Sequentia: Dies Irae

Dies irae, dies illa

Solvet saeclum in favilla

Tecste David cum Sibylla.

Quantus tremor est futurus,

Quando judex est venturus,

Cuncta stricte discussurus.

Tuba mirum spargens sonum

Per sepulchra regionum

coget omnes antes thronum.

Mors stupebit et natura,

cum resurget creatura,

Judicanti responsura.

Liber scriptus proferetur.

In quo totum continetur,

Unde mundus judicetur.

Judex ergo cum sedebit,

Quidquid latet, apparebit:

Nil inultum remanebit.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus ?

Quem patronem rogaturus,

Cum vix justus sit securus ?

Rex tremendae majestatis,

Qui salvandos salvas gratis,

Salva me, fons pietatis.

Recordare, Jesu pie,

Quad sum causa tuae viae:

Ne me perdas ilIa die.

Quaerens me, sedisti lassus:

Redemisti crucem passus:

Tantum labor non sit cassus.

Juste Judex ultionis

Donum fac remissionis

Ante diem rationis.

Ingemisco tanquam reus:

Culpa rubet vultus meus:

Supplicanti parce, Deus.

Qui Mariam absolvisti,

Et latronem exaudisti,

Mihi quoque spem dedisti.

Preces meae non sunt dignae:

Sed tu bonus fac benigne,

Ne perenni cremer igne.

Inter oves locum praesta,

Et ab hoedis me sequestra,

Statuens in parte dextra.

Confutatis maledictis,

Flammis acribus addictis:

Voca me cum benedictis:

Oro supplex et acclinis,

Cor Contritum quasi cinis:

Gere curam mei finis.

Lacrymosa dies illa,

Qua resurget ex favilla

Judicandus homo reus.

Huic ergo parce, Deus:

Pie Jesu Domine,

Dona eis requiem.

Day of wrath, that day

Will dissolve the earth in ashes,

As David and the Sibyl bear witness

What dread there will be

When the judge shall come

To judge all things strictly.

A trumpet, spreading a wondrous sound,

Through the graves of all lands,

Will drive mankind before the throne.

Death and Nature shall be astonished

When all creation rises again

To answer to the Judge.

A book, written in, will be brought forth

In which is contained everything that is,

Out of which the world shall be judged.

When therefore the judge takes his seat,

Whatever is hidden will reveal itself.

Nothing will remain unavenged.

What then shall I say, wretch that I am,

What advocate entreat to speak for me,

When even the righteous may hardly be secure?

King of awful majesty,

Who freely savest the redeemed,

Save me, a fount of goodness.

Remember, blessed Jesu,

That I am the cause of Thy pilgrimage.

Do not forsake me on that day,

Seeking me Thou didst sit down weary,

Thou didst redeem me, suffering death on the cross,

Let no such toil be in vain.

Just and avenging Judge,

Grant remission

Before the day of reckoning.

I groan like a guilty man,

My face blushes with guilt

Spare a suppliant, a God.

Thou who didst absolve Mary Magdalen

And hearken to the thief,

To me also hast given hope.

My prayers are not worthy;

But you, in goodness, act kindly,

So that I do not burn in eternal fire.

Place me among Thy sheep

And separate me from the goats.

Setting me on Thy right hand.

Let the cursed ones be confounded,

committed to harsh flames,

call me among the blessed.

I beg you, suppliant, bowing down,

my contrite heart like ashes,

care for me at my ending.

Mournful that day

When from the dust shall rise

Guilty man to be judged.

Therefore, O God, spare this man,

O merciful Jesu, Lord

Grant them eternal rest.


Offertorium: Domine Jesu

Domine Jesu Christe, Rex gloriae,

libera animas omnium fidelium defunctorum

de poenis inferni et de profundo laco:

Libera eas de ore leonis,

ne absorbeat eas tartarus, ne cadant in obscurum: Sed signifer sanctus Michael

repraesentet eas in lucem sanctam:

Quam olim Abrahae promisisti et semini ejus.

Hostias et preces tibi, Domine,

laudis offerimus:

Tu suscipe pro animabus illis,

quarum hodie memoriam facimus:

Fac eas, Domine, de morte transire ad vitam. Quam oliln Abrahae promisisti et semini ejus.

Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory,

deliver the souls of all the faithful departed

from the pains of hell and from the bottomless pit.

Deliver them from the lion's mouth

that hell engulf them not, nor they fall into darkness;

And let St Michael Thy standard bearer

lead them into the holy light

which Thou once didst promise to Abraham and his seed.

We offer Thee, O Lord,

this sacrifice of prayer and praise.

Receive it for those souls

whom today we commemorate.

Grant them, O Lord, to pass from death to the life which Thou once didst promise to Abraham and his seed.



Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,

Dominus, Deus Sabaoth

Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua.

Hosanna in excelsis.

Holy, Holy, Holy,

Lord, God of Hosts.

Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory.

Hosanna in the highest.



Benedictus, qui venit in nomine Domini. Hosanna in excelsis.


Blessed is He who cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.


Pie Jesu

Pie Jesu, Domine,

dona eis requiem.

Pie Jesu, Domine,

dona eis requiem sempiternam.

O merciful Lord Jesus

grant them rest.

O merciful Lord Jesus,

grant them rest eternal.


Agnus Dei

Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi:

dona eis requiem sempiternam.

Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi:

dona eis requiem sempiternam.

Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi:

dona eis requiem sempiternam.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,

grant them everlasting rest.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,

grant them everlasting rest.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,

grant them everlasting rest.


Lux aeterna luceat eis. Domine,

cum Sanctis tuis in aeternam, quia pius es.

May perpetual light shine on them, Lord,

with Thy saints for ever, because Thou art merciful.

Close the window