from the Wokingham Times, November 2001
VERDI wrote romantic, dramatic operas. So when he composed his Requiem as a memorial to the great Italian writter Manzoni, his response to the text was in keeping with his operatic experience.
However, a requiem is not a drama set to music; it is a contemplation of man's destiny and salvation. A successful account of Verdi's work will keep this distinction in mind and will bend the dramatic music to the serious themes that underlie it.
Wokingham Choral Society's conductor, Edward Gardner, struck a delicate balance, allowing Gisella Allen's soprano voice to soar romantically in Libera Me, and the trumpets of the Guildford Philharmonic to blast away in Tuba Mirum, but he kept a steady pace in the scary Dies Irae.
This control suited the choir very well and led to some wonderful singing.
The prayerful nature of the work was set in their quiet opening, Requiem.
They were aghast in Liber Scriptus, terrified of the wrath of God. In Confutatis, they were so closely synchronised that they sounded as one.
The fugue in the Sanctus was nimble, neat, and joyful, and their Agnus Dei was perfect.
It was a lovely performance, right up to the last notes of Libera Me.
What more can one say? We are incredibly lucky to have this excellent choir and we are grateful to them for all the time and effort they put into their work.
They are doing Bach's Mass in B Minor at Eton on Sunday, March 24. Put it down in your diary now, and don't miss the carol concert at All Saints' Church on Saturday at 7.20pm.