A performance of Verdi’s Requiem is always an occasion, this one involving the London Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus. Gianandrea Noseda set the mood from the very start, waiting until the audience had come to complete silence before beginning with a delicate hush of string and choral sonorities. The LSO once again impressed with its ability to produce a wide variety of dynamics, expressions and moods, as well as with its virtuosity, such as in the blazingly fast and intense ‘Dies Irae’, during which the brass and the strings shone. The cellos played beautifully at the beginning of the ‘Offertorio’; likewise, the LSC sang with a well-blended sound and more than met the technical challenges of Noseda’s generally fast tempos – at times perhaps too fast, such in the concluding ‘Libera me’ fugue, which took on an inappropriate bouncy character.
The soloists did not quite come up to this level, save for Daniella Barcellona. Although her voice is more lyrical than dramatic, she was fully engaged, singing with beauty of tone and appropriate emotional expression. Erika Grimaldi was misplaced in terms of vocal power – her pleasant but somewhat light voice frequently covered by the forces behind her – and the emotional demands of the part. Even the beautiful moment a cappella chorus in the middle of the ‘Libera me’ disappointed, the final high B-flat simply too loud.
Giorgio Berrugi, stepping in at short notice for Francesco Meli, delivered some communicative passages, but struggled technically, insecure on top notes, and at times with pitch. Vitalij Kowaljow impressed with his resonant quality, but less with artistic delivery. As a quartet the singers blended well, but the real excitement came from orchestra and chorus, and most of all from Noseda’s committed conducting.