Saturday, 5 June 2010

Concert Review: Verdi Requiem in Beckenham

This is going to be a rather unusual concert review, for the Banbury Man was singing in this concert. I was helping out the Beckenham Chorale who were a bit short of tenors. Rather disastrously, I helpfully said I would sing where I was put, with the consequence that I was put with the second tenors. Although the part does not split much, one chorus does, and there were other times when I found it annoying to be singing the lower notes instead of belting out the top ones. However, there were twenty tenors, which was thrilling, and I had never sung in so large a choir.

As I sang, I will not review the performance of the choir, but rather the soloists, who were a mixed bag. The mezzo was just good. She gave a decent performance, and managed well in all registers. The bass was good – with that sound needed for the piece. The soprano, disappointingly, was just acceptable. She made few obvious mistakes. She generally sang at the power, or delicacy, that the part demanded. In any other work, this would be fine. But in this work, where the soprano really needs to shine, it was disappointing. There was nothing memorable about her performance. The star of the show for me was the tenor. This is a work that calls for delicate singing in the offertorium, but power in other arias and quartets. All too often a tenor is good at one and not the other, and usually gets drowned out by the bass and soprano (see my last review of this piece). But this time the tenor, who had more of an operatic background, really possessed the force and tone to carry it off. He was never drowned out, but still managed tender notes. My one criticism would be that his voice lacked consistency throughout the range, but it was good to hear the tenor line in the quartets for once, and not feel that this was really being performed by a baritone who had some high notes in him.

This requiem, as I have written before is thrilling to listen to. To perform it is a spiritual and physical exercise, that guarantees an exhausted buzzing singer at the end.

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