First publication of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, Ricordi 1874

Friday, July 15, 2022

Royal Albert Hall, London

Sakari Oramo opened BBC Proms 2022 with a fine Verdi Requiem, but I have been cursed, for ladies and gentlemen, my review has fallen off the end of the World and is lost. So, in fewer words than I have just seen eaten away, the beginning of the ‘Requiem aeternam’ was barely audible – just as it should be – and the combined choruses impressed in weight of sound and togetherness; three of the four soloists impressed immediately, the replacement tenor somewhat strident, maybe awed by the size of the venue, although he radiated much sensitivity later. The ‘Dies irae’ was launched in thrillingly fierce terms, choir uninhibited, BBC Symphony Orchestra on its mettle, although the bass drum strokes could have had even greater clout; however, how well Oramo held this lengthy and diverse setting together without denuding any one aspect. Following a radiant ‘Offertory’, the ‘Sanctus’ was a joyful release, sung and played nimbly, filigree orchestral detail closely observed, then – attacca – an ‘Agnus Dei’ of repose, followed by an otherworldly ‘Lux aeterna’ that grew to throbbing passions, both confirming the mezzo as the soloist with the most to impart. Finally, the ‘Libera me’, with an even fiercer return of the “day of wrath” music, a very disciplined realisation of Verdi’s intricate fugal writing, and moving appeals from the soprano. By rights, a longer silence should have been upheld before someone clapped.

This was Paul Hughes’s last day as Director of the BBCSO & Chorus: wishing him well for the years ahead.

Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha, soprano
Jennifer Johnston, mezzo-soprano
David Junghoon Kim, tenor
Kihwan Sim, bass
BBC Symphony Chorus
Crouch End Festival Chorus
BBC Symphony Orchestra

First Night of the Proms Artist Change.

Paul Hughes to step down as Director of the BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus and BBC Singers.