Album Review

Posted: Monday 11th December 2006
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Brahms: German Requiem (ein Deutsches Requiem) – Church Music Quarterly

The Vasari Singers have a velvet tone that is wonderfully suited to Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem. Their performance of the lovely chorus ‘wie lieblich sind deine wohnungen’ (known to many English-singing choirs as ‘how lovely are thy dwellings fair’) exemplifies the Vasaris’ command of line and phrase, and their broad dynamic range. Soloists Claire Seaton and Colin Campbell are excellent in their roles; and the piano duet accompaniment (Brahms’s own arrangement of the orchestral score) is executed with great sensitivity by Jeremy Filsell and Roderick Chadwick. Indeed, the attain the highest musical success of a piano duet partnership@ they sound like one musician (albeit a super-human one).

On the Vasari disc, Brahms’s Requiem is coupled with Geistliches Lied Op. 30: the same work as begins a CD by St Albans Cathedral Choir. It is interesting to compare a performance by a mixed adult choir accompanied by piano duet, with one by a cathedral choir of men and boys accompanied by organ. The Vasari Singers takes more than a minute less over the piece than the choir of St Albans Cathedral. While the acoustics of the recording venues and the different accompanying instruments are doubtless significant factors in the tempi, the two conductors view the work from slightly different angles. Jeremy Backhouse achieves a passionate intensity, while Andrew Lucas’s interpretation is a touch more serene. Although their German is clearly pronounced, both the Vasari Singers and the Choir of St Albans Cathedral never sound anything other than fine English choirs.

Church Music Quarterly