'Stage Lighting Fails to Dim Bright Show'
Brahms Requiem: The Nelson Civic Choir conducted by Pete Rainey
The Nelson School of Music
Reviewed by Michael Monti
Brahms completed the German Requiem in 1868. Written for chorus, soloists and orchestra, it is a large work. Subsequently, he made a setting for piano reduction, which gives the choral parts much greater clarity than when accompanied by full symphony orchestra. It is this adaptation which we heard last night, and it was a great success.
The Civic Choir was well balanced and strong both in unison and in parts. The translated English words were clearly enunciated, with crisp entries and phrase endings.
They were most confident in the well-known chorus ‘How Lovely are thy Dwellings’, and were not distracted in the final two movements when the stage lighting took on a life of its own, flickering from dim to very bright.
Baritone Graham O’Brien and soprano Xing Xing were strong yet empathetic to the mood of the setting, contrasting both joyful and funereal.
Playing alongside each other, Richard Mapp and Mary Ayre were supportive of the choir and never dominated in their piano accompaniment.
Conductor Pete Rainey gave clear direction to the choir and the other performers, who interacted well.
The first half featured each of the solo performers. Baritone O’Brien was sympathetic in two Schubert lieder and Xing displayed a delightful personality in three Hugo Wolf songs. The section concluded with piano duets, Mary Ayre and Richard Mapp playing to well-known Hungarian Dances.
The concert was well received by an enthusiastic audience.