Review: Verdi’s Requiem at Llewellyn Concert Hall - Saturday May 20

Photo by Steven Shaw

The slow rich sounds that open Verdi’s Requiem on the celli lets you know you are in for a deeply moving performance. It is a profound musical experience hearing this requiem live.

The four soloist singers were 

Sonia Anfiloff (soprano), Christina Wilson (mezzo-soprano), Christopher Lincoln Bogg (tenor) and Jeremy Tatchell (bass), with The Llewellyn Choir and the Llewellyn Sinfonia, all under the baton of Rowan Harvey-Martin.

This soft and thunderous Requiem can at times startle you with its subtleties and its strength and volume, especially with the placing of several trumpets behind the audience in the balcony. Added to that, the 120 or so singers in The Llewellyn Choir made this work a unique event to experience.

What unique orchestration for a requiem

Giuseppe Verdi by Giacomo Brogi File:Brogi,Giacomo (1822-1881)  Scan by G.dallorto, Public Domain

At times, the orchestration can sound like an ensemble piece with its light and almost playful arrangements, and then it can hit you with the full force of its massive sound, leaving you in no doubt that this is a monumental work.

The soprano and the mezzo-soprano blended exceptionally well throughout the concert, and when the four soloists came together, the balance was just right. Jeremy Tatchell’s bass voice rang out clear and strong.

Some in the strings didn’t hit the mark every time, and it was a bit hard to hear parts of the string section occasionally over the large choir and the booming bass drum.

The choir never failed throughout the concert; they came across as well-practiced, well-presented and were on song.

The woodwinds stood out

The woodwind section’s performance added a clear and distinctive tone to the concert. Their playing gave the performance a colourful and rounded sound. They stood out for me.

Verdi, the great opera composer, understands voice very well, and that showed through when the four soloists came together. Their skills and the combination of their voices added that dramatic operatic feel to the Requiem.

The Agnus Dei was perhaps the standout piece of the night

It has a greater variation between the choir, orchestra and the soprano and the mezzo-soprano. You could hear the qualities of a folk song with its lovely plaintive melody leading on the flute.

The concert started a little late, but as there was no interval it never went overtime, and everything flowed smoothly. This Requiem is almost 90 minutes of music and singing that everyone should hear at least once in their lifetime.

Photo By Doug Robertson

This review first appeared in CityNews