The opening word in Latin stabs like a dagger: "Rex!" the chorus sings. And again, and again: "Rex!"
The lyric in Mozart's Requiem Mass in D minor is one of those moments in choral music that cuts to the bone. Though the words of the "Rex tremendae" movement speak of a "King of awesome majesty who freely saves those worthy of salvation," the moment is not one of happy praise but of desperate submission -- of urgent beseeching -- from a piteous sinner. There is eternity at stake, and you feel the tension. I imagined the slightest of chills descending upon the Shaghoian Hall as the internal temperatures of each audience member notched down a fraction of a degree. The opening phrases of the movement are that cold and beautiful.
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