PROM 26: MOZART’S REQUIEM | BBC Proms 2019

Mozart’s Requiem is one of the classics of the choral repertoire, but conductor Nathalie Stutzmann was able to bring fresh drama to it, leading the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and its Chorus. Very impressively, the Chorus had memorised the entire 50-minute work, and performed off-book, leading to an incredibly energised sound with conductor and ensemble fully in sync.

At times, the drama teetered on the edge of un-Mozartian, with lots of hyper-articulated staccato alongside ducking and diving dynamics. At one point, the chorus all rose theatrically as one, a mere beat before belting out, “Rex!” in Rex tremendae: a little unorthodox, but the power is undeniable. Among the four soloists, Fatma Said’s light and soaring soprano stood out.

In the opening half we were treated to another concert hall classic, the instrumental Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde. The strings led the way, especially the constantly yearning upper register from the cellos. A quick blast through Brahms’ Tragic Overture opened the Prom, with the strings again really digging into their instruments; Stutzmann demanding the absolute most from her ensemble.

Where the first half contained one or two dodgy moments of timing, and more than one or two moments of overplaying and undertuning from the French horn section, that was all done away with by the second half. Audiences don’t usually give standing ovations at Proms, but the mood certainly grabbed this audience, with a significant number of Welsh flags waving, too. More power to ‘em.

1,350 £6 Promming tickets are available on the day for every performance.

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