Gabriel Fauré’s evergreen Requiem was originally written for liturgical use, but its increasing popularity led to expansions of the piece until it ended up as the orchestral version most of us know.
This concert featured the Requiem in a new chamber version by David Hill for violin, cello, harp and organ which restored the piece to its more modest scale to moving effect.
The sopranos of Andrew Fletcher’s impeccably rehearsed choir floated Fauré’s lines tenderly and beautifully, baritone Dan d’Souza offered a clear and unaffected performance of his solo in the Offertoire, and local star treble, Jonathan Vining, delivered the Pie Jesu with purity of tone and poignant simplicity.
The transparent accompaniment enabled us to hear the choir’s well balanced sound clearly, and Fletcher’s restraint produced a reverential and touching performance of this understated masterpiece.
Bernstein’s vivid Chichester Psalms begins with a call to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” This was heeded in no uncertain terms as the chorus responded with sharp attack and precise diction of the Hebrew text.
The instrumentalists heightened the response to the composer’s call for exuberance as they deftly handled the score’s tricky rhythmic demands, although the unhelpful siting of the organ sometimes made precise ensemble difficult.
Jonathan Vining supplied a beautiful contrast in his gentle solo interludes, and the final section, “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity,” a serene allusion to the sentiments of Schiller and Beethoven, was affectingly sung by the unaccompanied choir making a highly appropriate note on which to finish.