A stylish performance of Mozart’s Requiem

Mozart Requiem, Bury St Edmunds Festival, St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Thursday May 20

Every week a large group of local amateur singers gather for their weekly rehearsal and enjoy making music together, working hard on pieces from the major choral repertoire – and it has been like this since 1932 when the Bach Choir was founded by Percy Hallam.

All of that hard work culminates in public performances with professional soloists and orchestra. When the performance is of the standard achieved in this year’s Bury Festival it must feel really good to be taking part.

The Mozart Requiem, with some 120 singers involved, proved to be a well rehearsed, well disciplined and stylish performance. The capable hands of conductor Philip Reed kept it all together magnificently – even though, with some singers a very long way from the podium, those faster contrapuntal passages in the ‘Sanctus’ and ‘Benedictus’ must have been quite a challenge.

The choir sang the words throughout with careful diction, and in the more dramatic choruses I enjoyed the big open sound they made – but they also showed excellent control in the quieter sections. Out of the four professional soloists the lovely clarity of Soprano Bibi Heal stood out for me; sitting opposite her was her former tutor Graeme Danby (Bass), who also impressed.

Accompaniment from the Suffolk Baroque Players was a delight – as was their performance of Haydn’s Symphony no 44 as an ‘appetiser’ before the main event.

Wynn Rees

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