St George’s Church, Portsea – Saturday November 11th 2017
For most audiences, Mozart’s Requiem is characterised by the melancholy tones of the wind and brass instruments; but in this performance conductor Thomas Neal chose to follow a route much favoured in the early 19th century, of supplanting the orchestra with a piano duet, here played by Emilie Capulet and Julian Gallant, in a keyboard version arranged by the celebrated pianist-composer and pupil of Beethoven, Carl Czerny.
This music was a particularly appropriate choice for the evening of Remembrance Day, as also were Henry Purcell’s Funeral Sentences. Here the conductor adopted a brisk tempo but in the clear but dry acoustic of Portsmouth’s only Georgian church the singers were well able to negotiate the astonishing harmonic details of this sublime music. The Requiem occupied the whole of the second half of the programme and the Festival Choir were obviously in their element. A particularly strong team of young soloists – soprano Davidona Pittock, mezzo-soprano Anna Cooper, tenor Steven Swindells and baritone Wesley Biggs – completed the line-up and were given rapturous approval by the gratifyingly numerous audience.