Monday, 25 July 2011

Verdi Requiem Bychkov Prom 13

Luckily, it hasn't been a hot summer so far. The Royal Albert Hall can be an inferno with 6000 bodies emitting heat, and this year's theme is BIG MASSED CHOIRS, which adds hundreds of extra bodies singing with all their might. Sometimes the emissions have been hot air, like Havergal Brian's Gothic, but that doesn't matter because the more we hear the more we know. And only the BBC Proms have the capacity - and guts - to go for mega extravanganza and pull it off. Havergal Brian almost certainly didn't envison his symphony turned into fantastic theatre, but by gosh, it worked!

Verdi's Requiem is in quite a different league to Brian, because Verdi 's iimpact comes from the richness inherent in his music. Poplavskaya, Furlanetto, Calleja and Pentcheva almost guarantee a good experience singing wise, so you're stunned by the sheer beauty of the vocal glory. With Semyon Bychkov conducting the BBCSO, there's almost no way Prom 13 could go wrong. Only three choirs, but beautifully judged singing. Verdi knows how voices work and doesn't need to push them into la la la vocalise, filling space with banality. What clear, shining singing, what zip in the orchestra ! I listened, full of admiration and respect, but emotionally could not connect. That's NOT the fault of the performers. It's me.

Requiems, by definition, are elaborate public displays of orchestrated grief, meant to dazzle. In theory they are religious masses for the dead but the very fact that they follow a formula, albeit from liturgy, means that they aren't necessarily personal. No matter how beautiful the music may be, requiems are designed so they tap into predetermined codes of expression.  After Utøya, (see more HERE), I'm just not able to deal with non-personal, non-intimate sorrow. Gunmen trash others for imagined crimes, when the fault, if any, lies in their heads.

Maybe I'll absorb more later in the  week, since the Verdi Requiem Prom is being broadcast for a week on BBC online and on demand. It will also be broadcast on BBC4 TV on 21st August. PLEASE COME BACK as in a day or so therewill be a VERY DETAILED review by Robert Hugill in Opera Today.

1 comment:

Pete said...

You're right about the performance.
It was so good it moved me to tears.

Very much appreciate your work on this blog.