Review: Birmingham Festival Choral Society, at Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham
Being Birmingham’s oldest established SATB chorus, the Birmingham Festival Choral Society have had plenty of time to recruit a loyal army of supporters, and this was in evidence at their well-attended concert on Sunday night.
Brahms’s Requiem drew some interesting qualities from the chorus and the Central England Ensemble. Far from struggling with any shortage of strength in the tenors – their fugal entries in How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place were particularly impressive – it was more projection in the bass that the chorus needed. This resulted in a somewhat unfair focus being placed on Brahms’s unrelenting soprano line.
The performance Patrick Larley drew from the Central England Ensemble was mixed, solid in the horns and wind, but thin in the strings. The group admittedly was not a large one, but hearing an orchestra’s tones drowned by a choiris a relatively rare experience.
The two soloists, however, were excellent. Baritone, Nicholas Folwell’s voice was ideally suited to the work, displaying a superb control of tone and vibrato in higher passages.
But it was a late addition to the programme, Louise Wayman, who was the real star. Her one movement contribution to the Requiem was an utter show stealer.
Skillfully weaving in and out of the supporting choral and orchestral colours showed both technical and musical excellence and made for a mesmerising few minutes. Wayman is definitely one to watch.