26 March 2011 at 7.30pm.
For those steeped in the tradition of the Requiem Mass based on Roman Catholic liturgy, ‘Ein Deutsches Requiem’ by Brahms offers some surprises. Drawing on texts from the German Lutheran Bible, this mighty work neither makes reference to Christ nor offers prayers for the dead, offering instead deep consolation and hope for the living.
Beginning and ending with beatitudes, Brahms’ masterpiece in seven movements with its complex and frequently changing dynamics presents real challenges for a choir. The Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir however, rose to these challenges with customary aplomb, delivering in German a performance that was as assured as it was captivating.
Accompanied by Nick Watts and Thomas Moore playing on two pianos and excellent guest soloists Che Seabourne (baritone) and Maxine Taylor (soprano), the choir proved equal to the demands of the score, performing gently-paced lyrical passages with finesse, skilfully increasing intensity to produce starkly contrasting, soaring crescendos with the drama and urgency required.
Showing that it is just as much at home outside the classical repertoire, the choir additionally performed Constant Lambert’s jaunty ‘The Rio Grande’ with its unusual blend of jazz, Brazilian influences, and English choral practice, and Bob Chilcott’s ‘A Little Jazz Mass’, sung in Latin to the accompaniment of bass and drums, played by Tom Wheatley and Steve Hanley respectively. Nick Watts’ virtuoso piano playing in the former piece was undoubtedly one of the highlights of this concert.
Under the direction of maestro Andrew Padmore, the Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir triumphed once more with both the subtlety and vigour of its performance, showing a command of varying musical idioms and styles that speaks eloquently of its professionalism.