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Review - Fauré Requiem: a work of hope and thankfulness

April 10, 2018

 

Right: Teddy Tahu Rhodes

 

Faure Requiem

Composed by Gabriel Fauré

Presented by The Queensland Symphony Orchestra

Conductor Stefan Parkman

Concert Hall

QPAC

South Bank

Brisbane

 

The Queensland Symphony Orchestra is one of Australia’s premium music ensembles and they certainly know how to put on a spectacle. With technically proficient, seamless skills and effortless grace its members bring unbridled joy and delight to audiences with each performance. Whether they churn out well known classics to the new and obscure, every performance by the QSO is world class

 Their recent production of Fauré’s Requiem was no exception. With the first act featuring a relatively newly discovered piece composed by Igor Stravinsky, Interludes by Benjamin Britten and a more recent morsel by Eric Whitacre the audience was suitably warmed up for the anticipated work of the night, the Requiem composed by Gabriel Fauré.

Stravinsky’s Funeral Song Op. 5 was long thought to have perished by a fall into obscurity but was unearthed in 2015. This sombre, soulful dirge, peppered with punchy moments of climax was just what was needed to get the audience into the mood of the evening.

In contrast, Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes Op. 33a was lighter and reminiscent of a European summer seascape – at once charming and soothingly calm in the first movements to a tempestuous and violent in turn in the latter sections.

The final piece that saw the end of the first act was the 90s era Cloudburst, a relatively acapella choral piece that stirred the blood and whose haunting tones really encapsulated the eponymous imagery Whitacre was attempting to create.

The Australian Voices were sublime in their interpretation of this work and worked impeccably together to create a water-tight performance.

Following the interval was the piéce du resistance – Fauré’s Requiem Op 48. This piece, first performed in its entirety at Fauré’s funeral in 1924 is an example of a mass for the dead that doesn’t rely on doom and gloom. It instead focuses a more tender outlook on one’s worldly departure and interprets this with lighter, more refreshing music. Featuring once again The Australian Voices, they provided, alongside the Concert Hall Organ, a grandiose touch to the work.

Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Morgan England-Jones were the featured Baritone and Soprano and added their sublime solo voices to the melange of bitter-sweet tones.

What I found most impressive about this work was the fact that the group of musicians performing was not as large as their sound.

This was essentially a work of hope and thankfulness for a life lived. I found this intriguing as usually Requiems are quite heavy and dour, but nevertheless this work was a refreshing take on 19 to 20th Century music and a demonstration of how far music has been interpreted and progressed.

What the QSO, The Australian Voices and soloists did was bring to life single moments of beauty encapsulated within the pages in front of them and should be commended as such.   

 

 

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