I think we all knew that this concert was going to be a bit special. For one thing, we seemed to learn the notes of the Mozart Requiem early on in the rehearsal programme, enabling Carlos to spend a lot of time adding expression and meaning to the music. For another, hearing Alexandra rehearsing the Prokoviev Violin Concerto on Thursday evening showed that the audience was in for a double treat.
And on the night itself, the very first declamatory chords of The Magic Flute Overture showed that the orchestra was more than its usual confident and competent self, equally at home playing on its own or accompanying Alexandra or the Choir.
What followed was arguably one of the best concerts we have ever produced. Alexandra’s playing of the Prokoviev was by turns masterful and playful, squeezing the last drop of expression out of every note, phrase and episode. Even those members of the audience who perhaps were not so keen on the music itself commented on her consummate technical skill. Standing at the back of the Chapel with the notes wafting through the screen was a delight – I sometimes wonder whether the acoustics there are better than those in the main body of the Chapel.
As for the Mozart Requiem – despite a couple of untidy entries, we can be confident that Mozart himself would have been proud of our performance. All that work on the expression paid off, and we were able to communicate the music fully to the audience. The soloists sang beautifully both individually and as a quartet. I think that Carlos’ favourite section, the Lacrymosa, which he believes embodies Mozart’s personal credo, might have been the highlight for many people both in the Choir and in the audience. And that would be very fitting.
What next? Carmina Burana, on Sunday afternoon, August 8th. Rehearsals start on Thursday April 28th.