REVIEW OF THE VERDI CONCERT ON 21ST MAY 2016, AT THAME LESIURE CENTRE
Verdi’s Requiem is one of those large-scale works which, because of its extravagant gestures, fits a spacious venue such the Thame Leisure Centre. For English Protestant ears, it may have an over-theatrical feel for a religious work; not to Italian ears, however, where La Scala Milan is a spiritual place. The joke that Verdi’s Requiem is his best opera probably falls flat in Italy. From the opening muted strings and hushed choir entry, it is apparent that this is a work of utmost sincerity, written at Verdi’s suggestion to celebrate the life of the poet Alessandro Manzoni.
The combined forces of the Aylesbury and Uxbridge Choral Societies, particularly the strength of the Sopranos at loud climaxes, worked well against the rather dead acoustic at Thame (which I attended); easier for the choir, one suspects, at the Hayes Catholic Church the following evening. The Orchestra, drawn mainly from London Music Colleges was excellent - the brass fanfares were notable in their ensemble.
The quartet of soloists was of International standing – especially useful because, compared with large works by Bach and Beethoven, the choir has less to do. The choir had its moments of excitement however: the Dies Irae, Sanctus, and finally the Libera Me fugue, which, after it had died down to a reposeful C major, elicited fervent applause from a very large audience. A triumph for Jeff Stewart and his forces.