Crouch End Festival Chorus: Mozart Requiem

Soloist Francesca Chiejina with the Crouch End Festival Chorus

The Crouch End Festival Chorus performed at Alexandra Palace Theatre on October 24. - Credit: David Winskill

An almost full house enjoyed a late October walk-through Alexandra Park to the Palace's theatre for this superbly programmed three-part concert by Crouch End's favourite choir.

Conscious of the emotional rollercoaster that we have all been on and the consolation that music can offer, the theme of the night was “Paradise seen through tears.”

Brahms’ Schicksalslied was a case in point as it opened with its funereal timpani, slowly, full of loss and longing. It was very German, very romantic and rather magical.

David Temple director and conductor of the Crouch End Festival Chorus at Alexandra Palace Theatre

David Temple director and conductor of the Crouch End Festival Chorus at Alexandra Palace Theatre - Credit: David Winskill

The composer for the next piece Jessica Curry was hiding in the gods to listen to her work Echo, based on Christina Rosetti’s poem. The Chorus invested warmly in this sad, tender but beautiful work, appreciating the impact the death of Curry’s father during lockdown must have had while she was writing the piece.

After a busy interval greeting old friends our attention was demanded by the sombre opening strings and woodwind (delivered by the excellent London Mozart Players) of the Requiem Mass.

A large scale and potent piece, the Chorus with four soloists (Francesca Chiejina, Kathryn Rudge, Ronald Samm and Benjamin Bevan) clearly relished the opportunity to tackle a work that can raise hairs on the back of the neck but also conjure the intimacy of grief.

The Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) was terrifying as it rushed onwards as a furious joust between the powerful, committed female and male voices of this large choir. It was suddenly halted by David Temple with a simple gesture of his baton and a profound silence filled the theatre.

The chorus performed a trio of works including Brahms' Schicksalslied

The chorus performed a trio of works including Brahms' Schicksalslied - Credit: David Winskill

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The first substantial outing for the soloists was in the Tuba Mirum – all fine singers, they delivered sensitive and engaged performances. The Sanctus was magisterial and allowed the chorus to flourish and revel in the pomp and magnificence of the music. Temple quickly moved onto the Benedictus where the soloists blended and interwove in an elaborate and joyous dance.

As the words of the Angus Dei died away, the applause seemed to go on for ages – in recognition of wonderful music and a wonderful concert. 4/5 stars.

Tickets are on sale now for the Chorus' Christmas concerts including The Royal Festival Hall on December 9, St Michael's Church, Highgate on December 18 and The Barbican with King's College Choir on December 21.


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