Opening Concert: Verdi’s Requiem


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Thursday 22 September 2011 at 7.30pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121-780 3333

 City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Andris Nelsons conductor
Kristine Opolais soprano
Mihoko Fujimura mezzo-soprano
Pavel Cernoch tenor
Jan Martiník bass
CBSO Chorus

Verdi: Requiem 84′ Listen on Spotify

Drums thunder, trumpets blast, and a mighty chorus screams out in terror: Verdi’s Requiem isn’t exactly what you expect from religious music! But it’s exactly what you’d expect from the grand master of Italian opera – and Andris Nelsons adores it. Tonight, in these opening concerts, he’s brought together an all-star cast, a super-size CBSO, and our magnificent CBSO Chorus. So prepare to be astonished as he turns the emotional volume up to 11 and launches the new season in a blaze of passion.

Find out what our musicians love about this music – watch music director Andris Nelsons and section leader double bass John Tattersdill discussing Verdi’s Requiem.

To listen to some of the music in this concert, and explore the rest of the season, using our Spotify playlists, click here.

Review by Andrew Clements, Guardian:

…     “The hall played its part, too, enabling Nelsons to move between whispering pianissimos and full, apocalyptic climaxes in the certain knowledge that both extremes would register and nothing would be muddied. The Requiem is ideally suited to his sense of theatricality. Whether in the carefully paced and managed outbursts of the Dies Irae, or the much more intimate textures of the later sections, Nelsons invariably judged it exactly. The CBSO Chorus hung on his every gesture – in the fugues of the Sanctus and the final Libera Me, detonated like explosions of joy, as much as in the whispered closing moments of the work, with the solo soprano Kristine Opolais etched above them.”     …

Review by Geoff Read, SeenandHeard -MusicWeb:

…     “I’m not sure how many pounds Nelsons lost during the evening; giving his all as ever it must have been considerable. What is it about the energy levels of conductors? This maestro was still pumped up after an uninterrupted ninety minutes! Leading by example, the infectious enthusiasm he has provided throughout his three completed seasons in Birmingham, he once again motivated those under his baton. He made the music of Verdi’s memorial to his political idol Alessandro Manzoni fit the words, ensuring that the required emphasis came across, whether from orchestra, choir or soloist. Testament to this was the opening Requiem Aeternam, the gentle supplications of orchestra and chorus on wavelengths from the same hymn sheet. ”     […]

The final Libera Me movement belonged to Opolais.      […]

[…] All her vocal and dramatic attributes shone forth in the Responsory: purity of tone, extensive and even range, lustrous colours and meaningful communication. One line summed her performance up – quando coeli movendi sunt et terra (when the heavens and the earth are moved); we were moved. At Tremens factus, the fragility in her voice portrayed that of a sinner trembling at the seat of judgement – this hair-tingling moment intensified by the sheer force of the final repeat of the Dies Irae. The wave of sound dissolved into Requiem Aeternam. The final bars were equally poignant as Opolais soared above it all – surely this was one soul who would be saved.”     …

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:

…     “Nelsons’ CBSO delivered Verdi’s perfect score magically, led so magisterially unobtrusively by Laurence Jackson.”     […]   

[…]     “The solo quartet were magnificent, mezzo Mihoko Fujimura a real find, tenor Pavel Cernoch and bass Jan Martinik ardent and persuasive.

As for soprano Kristine Opolais: her singing brought a properly operatic drama to the performance (so much of this writing sounds like Aida, from impassioned muttering to soaring religious ecstasy. Husband Andris will have been well pleased.”

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