Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir, Vector Wellington Orchestra, Morag Atchison (soprano), Bianca Andrew (mezzo), Bonaventure Allan-Moetaua (tenor), Shane Lowrencev (bass), conducted by Karen Grylls.
Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, June 6
Reviewed by John Button
Choirs Aotearoa promoted this concert - Mozart Requiem by Candlelight - assiduously, and was rewarded with a very full Wellington Cathedral, on a wild and windy night. And those present were rewarded with a performance of enormous polish, skill and insight; a moving experience, and one that not only understood the context of the Requiem's dramatic gestation, but, more importantly, placed it within the world of Mozart's last operas.
Karen Grylls is justly famed as a world-class choral director, and that showed in the wonderful singing of the choir, but she is also that rarity among choral conductors, one who can offer real interpretative skills.
So this performance of the Requiem had, rather than a droopy reverential feel, an exciting, dramatic, highly operatic cast to it with swift but not over fast tempos, and beautifully balanced textures between choir and orchestra. The all-important trombones, who can so easily dominate, were scrupulously balanced to stunning effect, the strings were supple and stylish, and the woodwind, including two basset horns, completed a fine orchestral contribution.
The four soloists were absolutely stunning. Each sang with style poise and projection, they were ideally balanced in the ensembles and added immeasurably to the enjoyment of this vital performance. Mozart didn't complete the Requiem and although there have been many completions since, that by his young pupil Sussmayr is the one most commonly used - as it was here.
As a moving postscript-encore we heard the Ave verum corpus - a beautiful moment of release.
This event was sponsored by: Turnovsky Endowment Trust, The Southern Trust, Pelorus Trust and Wellington Community Trust