Reviews: Mozart’s Requiem

Great Hall, University of Reading

On Saturday Wokingham Choral Society began its 2012/13 season with a stunning concert in the Great Hall of Reading University.

The programme began with Bach’s Suite No 3 in D played by the Brandenburg Sinfonia.

The Suite shows Bach at his most jovial but at its heart the moving Air on a G String gave a hint of the more profound musical experience in store.

The suite was followed by Haydn’s beautiful St Nicolas Mass, the elegant optimism of the first five movements contrasting dramatically with the grandeur of the closing Agnus Dei.

There was an apt change of mood in preparation for the second part of the concert devoted to Mozart’s Requiem, one of the most profound and poignant works in the classical repertoire.

The Requiem was composed in a frantic outpouring of genius as Mozart was dying of rheumatic fever, but was unfinished at his death. At the request of Mozart’s widow, Constanza, the score was completed by one of his pupils Sussmayr, and this is the version most often heard.

The Society chose, however, a version by the contemporary British Composer, Duncan Druce, using more recently discovered fragments of the work.

The ensemble of choir, soloists, orchestra and Benjamin Woodward’s continuo, under the baton of Alexander Chaplin captured Mozart’s exploration of the range of emotions roused by an acute awareness of mortality.

There are many good reasons why Wokingham Choral Society deserves the whole-hearted support of the local community. Firstly, it is an amateur choral society of outstanding merit.

Secondly, it gives the audience an opportunity to hear exciting young soloists on the threshold of outstanding careers.

Thirdly, everyone benefits from the inspiring musicality of the Society’s conductor, Alexander Chaplin. An unusual feature of the Society’s concert was his pre-concert talk, worth the price of a ticket in its own right.