Thursday, July 16

Verdi – Messa di Requiem – Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth

- November 24, 2011

A Concert on Remembrance Sunday needs to strike the right note, to be in accord with the day’s heightened emotions and bring people together. A choral requiem will do all this and fill the Dome. The audience were crackling with anticipation. Barry Wordsworth soon put a stop to that by starting the Requiem even more quietly than Verdi indicates. The hush just racked up the tension as the full force of the Brighton Festival Chorus matched the strings’ pianissimo, and then went quieter still. What a relief when the basses came in forte!

Verdi’s operatic requiem is famous for its rich orchestration and grand climaxes, yet the score demands quiet many more times and in many more ways than it ever asks for loudness. However, when full voice was needed the orchestra and singers certainly delivered. Not every performance affords two bass drums or quite so many extra trumpets, on this occasion rousing both sides of the balcony, but their effect was electrifying.

There’s a lot more to it than just singing loud or soft. This large chorus responded instantly to the conductor’s every change of mood, as when the ‘Sanctus’, which began all pomp and trumpet fanfares, suddenly became a light madrigal. I’m sure half the BFC were singing from memory, they paid such close attention to the baton.

The star of the well matched solo quartet was Rachel Nicholls, whose thrilling top C” easily surmounted the full chorus and orchestra! Thank you for a very memorable Remembrance Sunday.

Concert Hall, Brighton Dome,
13 November 2011

Rating: ★★★★☆

Andrew Connal

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