Nottingham Post

Purity and intimacy brought to life by Viva and Harmonic


FAURÉ’S Requiem holds a special place in the hearts of audiences and choral societies alike. It is not only full of glorious melodies but it evokes exactly the atmosphere its composer intended: “intimate, peaceful, loving”. In fact, Fauré told a musician friend: “It is as GENTLE as I am myself.”

Its purity and intimacy aren’t easy for a big choir – like the Nottingham Harmonic – to bring off, especially for ears more used to hearing it in small-scale chamber performanc­es. However, the Harmonic rose to the challenge, clearly expertly drilled by music director Richard Laing and sensitivel­y conducted in Saturday’s performanc­e by Natalie Murray Beale. Their success was down to discipline­d singing throughout. The

lovely tunes have to be understate­d if they are to achieve their effect, so it was good to hear that the choir concentrat­ed on rhythmic precision, accurate tuning, care with dynamics and, especially, crisp enunciatio­n of the Latin words.

They were joined by April Fredrick, who sang the famous Pie

Jesu with touching tenderness, and by Simon Wallfisch, well able to produce deep emotion by exercising restraint and producing an eloquent purity of tone.

Just one disappoint­ment: Fauré’s original idea was to use just one solo violin, creating a magical effect in the Sanctus. Adding all Sinfonia Viva’s violins sadly produced less of an impact.

Neverthele­ss the orchestra was on fine form. It was good to hear them in the very rarely performed Overture No. 2 by the 19th-century French composer Louise Farrenc, a beneficiar­y of the recent resurgence of interest in forgotten women composers. It starts with an epic slow introducti­on but when it really gets going the mood is bright, bouncy and energetic. It’s the sort of piece which makes a strong first impression, especially in Sinfonia Viva’s crisp, smiling, buoyant performanc­e under Beale.

Just before the interval came Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto, which radiates the love between its composer and his wife Clara, for whom it was written. It’s not a flashy work: rather one that is dominated by a word at the start of the score: “affettuoso” (“affectiona­te”). There is none of the usual competitio­n between soloist and orchestra; instead there’s a dialogue of equals.

The soloist Jean-selim Abdelmoula, Sinfonia Viva and their conductor were clearly of one mind in their approach: in the predominan­tly meditative opening movement; in the delicate, tiptoeing Intermezzo and in the joyful exuberance of the finale.

 ?? ?? Conductor Natalie Murray Beale
Conductor Natalie Murray Beale

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