Friday, April 9, 2010

Old liturgy as new soundtrack

The Washington Post's Anne Midgette appraises Stephen Hough's "Requiem aeternam," an arrangement of Tomas Luis de Victoria's Requiem (1605) as a wordless string sextet, crafted as musical accompaniment to “The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture, 1600-1700,” an exhibit of paintings and sculpture made for street processions during Passion Week, now on view at Washington's National Gallery of Art.

Hough, the versatile and venturesome English musician most widely known as a concert pianist, made the arrangement for the show when it was mounted at the National Gallery in London.

"Stripping the [Requiem] of its texts, and thus of its specifically religious context, was a thoughtful echo of the secularizing process of displaying religious art works in a museum show: their aesthetic value, rather than their religious value, being in this context of primary importance to most of the show’s viewers," Midgette writes: