Dean Close School Spring Concert, Pittville Pump Room
I have always regarded Mozart's Requiem as a tame affair compared with Verdi's highly dramatic version. But tonight's interpretation by Dean Close School Choir and Schola Cantorum has changed my opinion.
Conductor David Bell drove his musical forces hard with no letup, no pause for breath between sections. After a confident start with the Introitus and Kyries he unleashed the horrors of the Day of Wrath with its atmosphere of terror and despair dominated by the fires of hell.
The high octane choral narration rendered the plight of the distinguished quartet of soloists led by Emma Brain-Gabbott all the more meaningful as they pleaded for mercy. Fortunately, their prayers were answered towards the end with the strains of the Agnus Dei and Communio plus some lively hosannas offering consolation. This was a truly gripping performance underpinned by the ever reliable Regency Sinfonia .
The first part of the evening was devoted to instrumental music highlighting the the talents of the school's Music Scholars. The lush and stately opening to Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings demonstrated the considerable benefit that Dean Close Sinfonia have derived from the Carducci Quartet's guidance.
Alas, the the school orchestra failed to create the necessary Mozartian sparkle in the Adagio of the composer's Flute Concerto in G major, though there was committed playing from soloist Rebecca Faull especially in the cadenza. However, everything came together in Neruda's Concerto for Trumpet and Strings made noteworthy by Hannah Williams' agile trumpet playing.
Helen Porter then handed over the conductor's baton to music scholar Oscar Osicki,. Oscar energised a much larger orchestra in a stirring performance of Beethoven's Fifth (first movement) employing a good range of dynamics and tempi. With his distinctive mop of hair he invited comparison with the young Sir Simon Rattle..