Review of a performance of the Berlioz Requiem in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 5th July 2014 by Cambridge and Norwich Philharmonic choirs and Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra

Cambridge and Norwich Philharmonic choirs and Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra filled Ely Cathedral with tremendous sounds in their performance of the Berlioz Requiem last Saturday.
This huge choir and orchestra, under the baton of Timothy Redmond, performed as one, giving every grand gesture or moment of reflection real value. The vocal articulation, gradations of volume and changes of tempi were particularly well mastered. The instrumentalists, led by the well-renowned Steve Bingham, gave great depth, colour and drama to the text. Wonderful moments ranged from the fantastic entrance of the brass ensembles that surrounded the audience in the ‘Dies Irae’ to moments that featured sinister murmurings from rumbling timpani, the warm of the strings or the ominous depths of the lowest bass instruments.
One of the highlights was undoubtedly the’ Sanctus’ in which the tenor, Bonaventura Bottone, filled the Cathedral with his strong rich expressive tones, supported by moments of exquisite choral expression and control, especially in the fugue.
The first movement, the ‘Requiem and Kyrie’, opened the performance beautifully, choir and orchestra engaging the emotional richness of Berlioz’s palette immediately. The third movement provided a moving contrast to the powerful ‘Dies Irae’ while the fourth movement, ‘Rex tremendae’, used this magnificent Cathedral to full effect, the variations in timbre, texture and time fully explored. The unaccompanied voices in ‘Quaerens me’ provided a calm respite, and the ‘Lacrymosa’ contained unsettling episodes of restlessness as planned, while the ‘Offertorium’ demonstrated the real skill of these musicians, for even though a key phrase was continually repeated, it was performed with such variety of expression and texture that the momentum of this haunting movement was constantly maintained. The extremes of range in the instruments provided contrast to the rich men’s voices in ‘Hostias’ and the whole work came to a fitting resolution with a sense of overall peace in the final ‘Agnus Dei’.
I was not surprised to learn from well-known music critic, James Day, that he had heard this work performed live four times and that this performance was the best. This was indeed a magnificent concert.
Cambridge Philharmonic next performance will be of Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’ at St. John’s College Cambridge on Saturday 18th October 2014.
Contacts: http://www.cam-phil.org.uk news-subscribe@cam-phil.org.uk http://www.stevebingham.co.uk

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2 Responses to “Review of a performance of the Berlioz Requiem in Ely Cathedral on Saturday 5th July 2014 by Cambridge and Norwich Philharmonic choirs and Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra”

  1. Sue Towler Says:

    It was the Norwich Philharmonic, not Newmarket!!!

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