Verdi’s Requiem, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH A generous ovation was the response from a capacity audience to this performance of Verdi's Requiem by the UEA Choir.


A generous ovation was the response from a capacity audience at St Andrew's Hall to this performance of Verdi's Requiem

It was given under the wholehearted direction of John Aplin by the UEA Choir, which he had trained, and the Academy of St Thomas, led by Paul Clarke.

With the support of fanfares of brass and the shuddering boom of percussion, the chorus conveyed the composer's alarming visions of the Last Judgement. The effects of contrast were powerful too, as terror was balanced with compassion.

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The impact of these sections might have been even more touching if the quieter singing had been a little brighter and more vibrant.

Of the four soloists the most impressive was the bass-baritone Simon Neal. Maintaining his dark tone evenly from top to bottom over a wide range and with ample reserves of volume, he had a voice that carried well and sang with an authority all the greater for seeming effortless. He made Mors one word on a single note, express as much emotion as the whole Dies Irae.

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The soprano, mezzo and tenor (Carol Smith, Louise Mott and Anthony Mee) had more of a struggle with Verdi's admittedly huge demands, especially in the Offertorium, which also taxed the Academy's upper string. The end of the Requiem could have done with rather more wild magic on the top line.

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