Review: Verdi requiem a monumental achievement

By William Dart

Joel Amosa's quiet dignity was a constant joy.
Joel Amosa's quiet dignity was a constant joy.

George Bernard Shaw was sometimes sceptical of composers' motives in writing requiems.

Verdi was the exception.

The cantankerous Irishman had no qualms in pronouncing his 1871 Messa da Requiem, a heartfelt response to the death of the great patriot and writer Alessandro Manzoni, an "imperishable monument" amongst Verdi's works.

Rita Paczian and Bach Musica NZ certainly conveyed this monumentality in their performance on Sunday night, bolstered by the spirited voices of Hamilton Civic Choir.

The adrenalin charged early on when the men positively strode into the first contrapuntal section; choral energies were well maintained, and the blistering storm of the Dies Irae lost none of its intensity when reprised at the end of the evening.

The double chorus demands of the Sanctus posed no problems and, on the orchestral side, apart from passing lapses in the strings, brilliance was balanced with poetry.

David Hamilton was the first soloist to step forward in the Kyrie, his strained entry steeling one for worse to come.

And it did; the tenor's Ingemisco tamquam reus projected a desperation that jarred with Verdi's recurring requests for sweetness.

Otherwise, Morag Atchison, Catrin Johnsson and Joel Amosa were a musicianly trio.

If the blend of the two women's voices did not always meld as they might have, Amosa's quiet dignity and beautifully turned lines were a constant joy.

What: Bach Musica NZ
Where: Auckland Town Hall
When: Sunday

- NZ Herald

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