A short while ago I played Mozart’s Requiem, something I could have said on more or less any day over the past 10 years. But on this occasion, as chance would have it, I found myself surrounded by bassoons and basset horns, double basses, cellos and my fellow violas, a somewhat more mellow envelope than the trumpets and trombones that conventions of orchestral seating usually provide.
It was during the Recordare, which everybody knows is the best section in any case, that I really began to enjoy the euphonious combination. So much so that I began dreaming that someone would write a piece for it: not necessarily directly inspired by the Mozart, but drawing on the same ripe instrumental sonorities, the same unheavy mood that hangs around the movement, and bringing them to the fore.
The arrangement of Couperin’s Les baricades mistérieuses by Thomas Adès – a beguiling morsel scored for a quintet made up of low strings, clarinet and bass clarinet – gives some idea of what my dream might have sounded like. But follow that with a longer piece including bassoons and with the clarinettists back on basset horns and you have the potential for a beautiful prelude to the nearly hour-long Requiem.
I don’t suppose I’ll ever see it happen, not being a composer myself nor being in the position to commission stuff and get it put on. But I’ve added it to my list of imaginary music and will try to enjoy it all the same. Just one thing: please, if you do ever write such a piece, make sure you ask me to play.