All too much for choir

PUBLISHED: 11:22 07 February 2008 | UPDATED: 12:57 06 May 2010

IT was not the worst performance of Brahms Deutsches Requiem I have ever heard — that honour falls to a leading German choir and orchestra. But Saturday s performance at St Saviour s Church in St Albans most certainly was not the best thing the chamber c

IT was not the worst performance of Brahms' Deutsches Requiem I have ever heard - that honour falls to a leading German choir and orchestra. But Saturday's performance at St Saviour's Church in St Albans most certainly was not the best thing the chamber choir Carillon has ever done.

It was a brave attempt and there were some fine moments but the choir under former St Albans Abbey assistant master of music, Andrew Parnell, was facing too many problems.

A shortage of tenors, caused by illness, meant the choir was out of balance, particularly at the top of their range and there were moments when the sopranos sounded harsh.

But the choir handled the almost hushed opening passages well, although for me, the later chorus Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen, one of the best-known parts of the work, was very disappointing.

All three solos in the requiem were provided by regular members of the choir. Geoff Ward gave a fine performance of the first baritone solo and Andrew Farrow sang the second, while Julia Blinko performed the demanding soprano solo. The choir had chosen Brahms' own transcription of the work for piano duet which, although it lacks some of the intensity of the orchestral version, allows the choir more scope to be heard in some of the very quiet moments of the work.

The duet performance was expertly provided by Linden Innes-Hopkins and Matthew Woodward who opened the evening with Brahms' tricky Variations on a Theme of Haydn.

It is rare for Carillon to present a concert dedicated to a single work and I feel that on this occasion the German Requiem turned out not to be the right one for the choir.

JOHN MANNING

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