Photograph courtesy of Ronnie Auld
The programme featured three works by Johannes Brahms.
- Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem)
- Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny)
- Begräbnisgesang (Song of Interment)
Conducted by our Music Director, Ian Wright, the choir was accompanied by a small orchestra – the Throstle Ensemble. They used a new orchestration of the Requiem which is more suitable for smaller choirs and recently published by Carus-Verlag. Each piece was sung in its original German version (rather than using an English translation – which is a more common choice for UK choirs).
Wigton Choral Society’s regular audiences have come to expect intriguing and ambitious programmes from their favourite choir and, once again, on Saturday WCS did not disappoint.
The mainstay of the programme, a complete performance of Johannes Brahms’ masterpiece Ein deutsches Requiem in the original German, is already a huge undertaking in itself, with a running time of over an hour, but Musical Director Ian Wright decided to lay the ground first with two short related works for choir and orchestra by the same composer, Begräbnisgesang (Song of Burial) and Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny).
Ian also made judicious use of arrangements (one being his own) for chamber ensemble (string quintet, wind quintet and timpani) to produce a more effective balance with the vocal forces and a result that was greater than the sum of its parts. The eleven professional instrumentalists who made up this latest incarnation of the Throstle Ensemble produced a thrilling sound, in turn warm and dramatic, not least with the recurring funereal beat of the timpani.
Choir and orchestra were joined in three movements of the Requiem by soloists Paul im Thurn (baritone) and Fiona Weakley (soprano), who each conveyed with beauty, clarity and warmth the message which runs through the whole of the German Requiem, that comfort and reassurance are to be had in God in times of sorrow and fear.
Throughout the evening, the choir of around 40 singers sang with assurance and sensitivity, confident with their entries, responsive to their director, and maintaining good tone and tuning to the last, despite the testing length of performance and the heat. Every section enjoyed its moments to shine, including the altos’, tenors’ and basses’ dark, rich tones in Begräbnisgesang, and the sopranos’ remarkably clear top notes in the last two movements of the Requiem.
Many congratulations and thanks to all the performers for a wonderful evening of moving and uplifting music!
Review by Anne-Marie Kerr
We thank all those who contributed to the fund-raising efforts to enable us to put on this concert. Again, we owe particular thanks for the generous support provided by Aspatria and District Community Charity Association.