Concert Review: Armistice by Orlando Gough. German Choir of London, Highgate Cemetery

Choral Music concert at Highate Cemetery German choir perform a war requiem

Choral Music concert at Highate Cemetery German choir perform a war requiem - Credit: Archant

Highgate’s Victorian cemetery offers a sombre but inspiring backdrop to a song cycle about the end of World War I

Choral Music concert at Highate Cemetery German choir perform a war requiem

Choral Music concert at Highate Cemetery German choir perform a war requiem - Credit: Archant

Deutscher Chor London at Highgate Cemetery

The Brahms Requiem, Armistice by Orlando Gough

***

The first half of this memorable evening was Armistice; an a cappella song cycle of four poems set to Orlando Gough’s music. Each is a reflection on the end of the First World War – the craving to return home, the end of the slaughter, optimism for the future, and faith in the power of love. None bear any hint of triumphalism but there is a deep sadness in all.

Choral Music concert at Highate Cemetery German choir perform a war requiem

Choral Music concert at Highate Cemetery German choir perform a war requiem - Credit: Archant


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The 50-strong Deutscher Chor of London boasts members from all over the world: the common thread is a passion for German music. Under the excellent leadership of Musical Director Barbara Hofling, they demonstrated a superb feel for the melancholy of Gough’s work and ability to articulate the themes and emotions of each poem.

Post interval, Hofling conducted Brahm’s requiem with energy; teasing depths of passion form the predominantly young choir.

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While The Keld Ensemble is a class act, some of the more expansive passages suffered from a lack of woodwind and brass.

Both soloists were excellent but it was Elisabeth Rauch’s Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit that was the take-home memory of the evening.

The venue was inspired. To the right of the performers, a war memorial inscribed with the names of the dead from both wars offered a sombre but uplifting setting.

With a brick arcade behind the choir and Keld Ensemble and various stone buildings behind the audience the acoustic was more than satisfactory and we soon became deaf to the occassional jet or overenthusiastic revellers in Waterlow Park.

Perhaps the success of the evening will inspire the Friends of Highgate Cemetery to consider a further programme of concerts.

David Winskill

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