Verdi's 'Requiem' was an exultant success
Kati Garner | March 20, 2011 at 07:11 pmby
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Yet the tempestuous weather and hazardous driving conditions could not dissuade some 1,400 fans from attending a landmark concert at the Mondavi Center in Davis.
The Sacramento Choral Society & Orchestra performed Guiseppe Verdi’s “Requiem” to a hushed and enthralled audience.
Director Donald Kendrick conducted the 55-member of the orchestra, 180-voice chorus and four guest soloists in a stunning 90-minute performance. That he did so without working from a score was testimony to his deep love and respect for the music and his dedication to sterling performance.
From the quiet, tender opening notes of the “Requiem aeternam,” there was a palpable sigh of an audience caught in the certainty that they were experiencing a remarkable musical event.
Verdi’s masterwork then rushed into a powerful, terrifying tumult throughout the “Dies Irae” (Day of Wrath) movement. The full fury of the heavens was heard through the crashing bass drum and the fanfare of trumpets.
The remaining movements were of a more devotional and contemplative nature, dealing with redemption, salvation and hope.
The double chorus provided a glorious display of the majesty of massed human voices. The precise harmonies of so many beautifully trained voices lent magnificence to the work.
The four soloists brought operatic richness and great emotional texture. Soprano Karen Slack, mezzo soprano Julie Simson, tenor Bjorn Arvidsson and bass Kevin Thompson sang with passion and power, tenderness and brilliance.
Particularly gorgeous was the pairing of Slack and Simson in the “Agnus Dei.” Their voices beseeching the heavens for eternal rest and peace were spellbinding.
Arvidsson’s “Ingemisco” was performed with precision and intensity.
Thompson, a last-minute substitution for the bass scheduled to perform, demonstrated his rich bass in the lyrical “Tuba mirum.”
However, the most outstanding solo performance was Slack’s “Libera me,” the final movement of the operatic Mass. Her strength and emotive power sent chills through the audience.
Kendrick first conducted the Verdi “Requiem” at Carnegie Hall in 1995. The SCSO has also performed this work at the Sacramento Community Center Theater. However, James McCormick, president of the SCSO board of directors, said the group was eager to perform again at the Mondavi because “It is a much warmer hall,” lending a deeper richness to the sound quality.
“I am so proud of our audience, to brave the weather and come to support us,” McCormick said. “Our audience is wonderful. There are even people here from San Francisco.”
The SCSO will perform again at the Mondavi Center on April 30. “Easy to Love” is a Broadway tribute, a very different experience than Saturday’s “Requiem.” It will, however, be a guaranteed delight.
Article | Mary Nares
Photos | Kati Garner
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