Norfolk and Norwich Festival Chorus with the Philharmonia Orchestra - Verdi's Requieum

St Andrew's Hall, Norwich (Norfolk and Norwich Festival)

St Andrew's Hall, Norwich (Norfolk and Norwich Festival)

Verdi's dramatic gifts are nowhere better exemplified than in his Requiem Mass, written when he was 60. With an excellent quartet of soloists - soprano Majella Cullagh; mezzo Anne-Marie Owens; Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts, tenor; and Andrew Foster-Williams, baritone; the Festival Chorus backed by the Philharmonia Orchestra everything augured well for last night's concert in St Andrews Hall, yet things didn't turn out quite as expected.

The notorious acoustics of the St Andrews Hall didn't help. The trumpets in the tuba mirum, while excellently played, had less than the necessary impact and the acoustics generally flattered the orchestra at the expense of the choir. The quartet of soloists was excellent. Yet though they blended very well, having them embedded in the choir at such a distance from the audience meant that they lacked the real power of communication. Conductor David Parry drove the performance with commendable energy, if somewhat lacking in sensitivity. The Dies Irae, for instance, lost some of its impact with his remarkably fast direction. Yet Verdi's masterpiece is strong enough to overcome such vicissitudes and a full St Andrews Hall was tremendously responsive.


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