Requiem

Let us try, if it is at all possible, to listen to Andrew Lloyd Webber's Requiem as if we didn't know who the composer was. Critics couldn't get over the fact that the celebrated author of Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita and Cats made a foray from the musical theater to church music, to reap laurels as a %u201Cserious” composer. They also couldn't stop emphasising that even in this new area of activity, Lloyd Webber remained a committed melodist, always insisting on the immediacy of emotional expression which was not %u201Cin” at the time. In 1985, the superstars – conductor Lorin Maazel and tenor soloist Plácido Domingo – ensured the work's success. The composer's wife, Sarah Brightman, shone in the soprano part, and boy soprano Paul Miles-Kingston, endeared himself to audiences. The Requiem's recording won a Grammy, and the work was performed everywhere from the United States to the Soviet Union.
The more time goes by, the less it matters how %u201Ctimely” a piece was when it was first written. A quarter-century after the first performance, a composition must stand on its own feet. In any case, the composer, who didn't take his cue from 20th-century high modernism but rather from the English church tradition, Fauré's Requiem and Orff's Carmina Burana, surely proved his versatility. The work's natural melodic style, its colourful orchestration and lively rhythms don't call for extensive verbal commentary. We must, however, single out the movement Pie Jesu, for boy and female soprano with chorus, which became a hit on its own, separated from the rest of the work. As for Lloyd Webber, he subsequently returned to musical theater and, in 1986, wrote The Phantom of the Opera. So far, the Requiem has not found continuation in his compositional output.