The multi-talented Richard Giarusso continues to explore single-mindedly one vitally important and fascinating area in music—the relationship between music and text. Last summer he offered an original and moving interpretation on Franz Schubert’s Schwanengesang, and, before he goes on to Die Winterreise this coming summer, he has given us an all-too-rare opportunity to hear perhaps the most sophisticated and eloquent fusion of text and music before Schubert, Heinrich Schütz’s Musikalische Exequien, a Lutheran funeral Mass to German texts, which Schütz wrote for the funeral of Prince Heinrich Posthumus Reuss, a member of the ruling family of the region in which Schütz was born. The eleven participating singers of the Aoede Consort (based in Troy, New York) and Giarusso’s direction were superb, but first, I’d like to provide some background.
The Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood closed on Monday, July 31 with Mark-Anthony Turnage’s “Blood on the Floor,” a long, ambitious piece for chamber orchestra with expanded winds and percussion, and a jazz quartet consisting of soprano saxophone, solo electric guitar and bass, and percussion. Now a mature ten years old, the suite has enjoyed fairly frequent performances in Britain and the U. S. over the years, not only because of the composer’s reputation, but clearly also because of its accessibility and quality. Both a recording and a DVD are easily available.