Review by Charlotte Leamon
The Messa Di Requiem, better known as Verdi’s Requiem was composed in order to honour the late Gioachino Rossini. Premiering in the year 1874, this Requiem is a Catholic funeral mass using text dated back to the first or second century. An impressive work of art featuring four soloists, a chorus and an orchestra. A monstrous work and a great feat to achieve.
The Ku-Ring-Gai Philharmonic Orchestra (KPO) was joined by the Willoughby Symphony Choir at The Concourse, Chatswood. Originally scheduled in 2019, this concert finally came into fruition on the third of September, 2023. Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Paul Terracini led the afternoon performance. The first movement contains solemn melodies in the chorus and strings. Composed in an arc-like form, this build comes to a peaceful end. Terracini’s cut-off for the first movement was delightfully crisp, encouraging an audience member to whisper, “couldn’t have done it better than that.”
A short pause soon disrupted by a cacophony of brass and percussion marks the beginning of the second movement, “Dies irae”. The energy of every performer radiated throughout the concert hall, exciting every audience member anticipating this moment. Swirling strings and woodwinds erupt as the chorus powerfully sings about our impending death. Whilst this movement can be overdone, it was thrilling in just the right way. Due to slight balance issues, the brass was overpowered by the strings and chorus. Accentuation on rhythms and a more percussive treatment of the brass section would have allowed them to be heard clearer in the space.
The trumpet fanfare, a call from the dead in their graves symbolises the ‘Tuba Mirum’. Four trumpets split in pairs were situated in the audience stands on opposite sides of the hall. A lovely effect establishing the call and response between trumpets and providing acoustic clarity in the space. Overall, the orchestra and choir delivered a stupendous performance of the second movement.
Bass Richard Anderson performed spectacularly. Providing warm and rich tones, Anderson perfectly complemented the other three voices. Anderson’s lyrical performance and sense of melodic contours were a highlight of this performance. He showed great virtuosity — singing with gentle expression for his solos, and a resonant power in the quartet.
Mezzo-soprano Kyla Allan sung with a voice of honey. Her diction and consonances were divine, and her collaboration with the quartet and conductor was splendid. Due to her collaborative efforts however, attention was taken away from her performance as she was most often looking toward others. It would have been wonderful to see her engage more with the music and show passion in her role. Despite this, she performed superbly.
Simon Kim flourished as tenor, soaring in his role and providing a captivating performance. Truly engaging with the musical material meant that Kim’s vocals were uplifted by his emotional performance. Similarly, Imogen-Faith Malfitano’s performance as soprano was skilful and heartfelt. Exploring her full range in this Requiem was to her advantage as she showed no faults. She showed great proficiency in her ability to blend with the orchestra where necessary, and outshine where necessary. Delicacy and power are hard in this Requiem when competing with other elements, yet Malfitano showed no struggle.
Overall, a wonderful and exciting performance of Verdi’s Requiem. As mentioned above this Requiem is a large, prestigious work. Terracini lifted the performance with his enthusiasm, resulting in an epic performance!