Requiem (Mozart)

Collegium Musicum

St Jospeh’s Church, Subiaco

reviewed by Neville Cohn

It says much for the persuasiveness of the singing of Collegium Musicum and accompanying orchestra that, for the duration of Mozart’s setting of the Requiem Mass for the Dead, one forgot how comfortlessly hard and unyielding the pews of St Joseph’s Church, Subiaco are.

Under the unflappable guidance of Margaret Pride, the Requiem unfolded in the most powerfully communicative of ways. In the opening Requiem aeternam, Dr Pride set an unusually slow pace which allowed this achingly poignant music to register most powerfully on the consciousness. Certainly, maintaining a sense of momentum at very slow speed was a remarkable feat of musicianship on the part of all concerned. And the skill with which the fugal writing of the Kyrie was essayed approached the magnificent.

Here, and throughout, the accompanying instrumental ensemble had the very real advantage of leadership from Paul Wright. Its account of the Dies Irae was electrifying in its intensity, to which the choir responded as if galvanised.

There were some fleeting problems with vocal intonation in parts of Tuba mirum.

The opening of the Sanctus was the sonic equivalent of a blaze of light but Hosanna in the Benedictus needed more emphatic treatment.

Uniformity of tonal sheen from the strings made the concluding pages of the work, in particular, all the more satisfying to hear. Throughout, Catherine Cahill and Ashley Smith brought a touch of distinction to the basset horn parts.

As ever, St Joseph’s first-rate acoustics allowed both the Requiem and Bach’s Christ lag in Todesbanden BWV4 to be heard to best advantage.

Copyright 2006 Neville Cohn


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