Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Contrasting but complementary works beautifully performed

Mozart Requiem
Saturday 26 November 2022, Knox Church

The vaulted roof and lovely acoustics of Knox Church were the perfect setting for City Choir Dunedin's performance of two contrasting, but complementary choral works - Mozart's Requiem and Forrest's the breath of life.

Conducted by David Burchell, the choir was joined by an excellent group of soloists in Caroline Burchell (soprano), Claire Barton (mezzo-soprano), Scott Bezett (tenor), and Edward Smith (bass), with the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, and Valerie Xiang (organ) and Sandra Crawshaw (piano) in sterling support.

The concert began with the New Zealand première of Forrest's 2019 atmospheric work the breath of life, portraying the beauty, yet brevity, of human life. From the opening moments of sibilant breathing from the choir, the piece maintains a contemplative tone throughout, melding voices, orchestra, piano, and digital sounds together in a satisfying whole.

The full forces of choir, orchestra and soloists then marshalled under Burchell's direction in a vigorous, nicely balanced performance of Mozart's Requiem.

In a work filled with moments of drama and poignancy, the choir highlights for this reviewer were the opening Requiem, Kyrie, Dies Irae, the beautiful Lacrimosa, and the Agnus Dei. Gentle moments were beautifully rendered, and some fiendishly quick fugue passages were tackled with aplomb.

The soloists were superb in solo passages and worked well together to blend their voices in the Tuba mirum, Recordare, and Benedictus movements, with Caroline Burchell's clear soprano soaring beautifully above.

The DSO players were excellent in support, adding form and colour to a wonderful musical experience. Bravo!

Review by Brenda Harwood, The Star, 1 December 2022.

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