Mozart’s Requiem Reviewed

The following review by William Ruff appeared in the Nottingham Evening Post on Monday’s 7th May 2012:

In just a little over two months John Keys and his Choir of St Mary’s have given performances of Elgar’s Gerontius, Bach’s St John Passion and (on Saturday) Mozart’s Requiem. Only a top-notch choir could manage this sort of output, their consistently high standards of performance amply justifying their conductor’s confidence in them.

The modest size of the choir belies their vocal power. Their disciplined control of volume is one of their hallmarks, along with crisp enunciation. In the Domne Jesu Christe, for instance, their agility and skill at producing smooth dynamic gear changes created urgency and tension.   The choral texture was always well-balanced and transparent, the sense of drama vivid and frequently thrilling. Once again all four soloists were choir members, itself a testimony to the choir’s high concentration of talent. Soprano Teresa Pearson, mezzo Leah Jones, tenor Jonathan Stork and baritone William Burn all had fine voices and projected their texts with urgent immediacy.

The Orchestra of the Restoration was on fine form both when accompanying the choir and in works by Dvorak. Two yearningly beautiful Slavonic Dances had plenty of middle European colour, the sharp contrasts in tempo and mood being particularly well managed. They also joined with soloist Elisheba Stevens in the Cello Concerto, a work from which melody pours in a seemingly never-ending stream.   Elisheba was at her best in the intensely lyrical slow movement, playing with warmth and ardour, clearly at one with the orchestra in conveying the affection which this great work inspires.

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