Masterworks Diamond Series


Venue: Orpheum Theatre
Date: Saturday 22nd November, Monday 24th November 2003 8.00pm

Reviewer: Lois Carter




Chatman Over Thorns to Stars Verdi Requiem

Conductor: Bramwell Tovey
Barbara Livingston Soprano Sarah Fryer Mezzo soprano David Pomeroy Tenor John Avey Bass with the Vancouver Bach Choir and Trinity Western University Choir


UBC professor Stephen Chatman wrote this dramatic string orchestral work at the suggestion of Bramwell Tovey in 2002. It was subsequently aired at the request of CBC radio in honour of the victims of the September 11th attacks.

The work itself is 9 minutes in duration and the listener is engulfed by musical portraits which give expression to the wonder of all the emotions which mark our humanity. Beautifully played, it provided a wonderful opening.

Written in Paris and first performed in Milan in May of 1874, Verdi's Requiem was generally well received throughout Europe at the time.

Most audiences shared Brahms' opinion that "only a genius could have written this work"; however, others felt more like Wagner who, having heard it, said "it's better to say nothing".

This diversity of opinion still prevails today and I have attended performances where it would be better to 'say nothing'. But that was certainly not true tonight.

Conductor Bramwell Tovey demonstrated what can only be described as scrupulous musicianship this evening.

He held the Vancouver Bach Choir, the Trinity Western University Choir, the VSO and the four soloists together, in a performance that made the dramatic impact of this work simply profound.

Both choirs responded with unanimous precision to Mr. Tovey's direction. The work had clearly been thoroughly





prepared, thus giving full expression to the texture of the music particularly in the difficult 'Dies Irae' and 'Sanctus'.

The VSO provided some wonderful moments and sustained a vital foundation for the staggering vocal panorama of Verdi's writing.

Although in places the brass fanfares lacked lustre and the offstage trumpets did not sound very distant, the strings, percussion and especially the sensitive woodwind playing in 'Quid sum miser', more than compensated for any shortfall elsewhere.

Soprano Barbara Livingston is undoubtedly as described by the Globe and Mail newspaper, "born to sing Verdi". The sheer magnitude of sound she produced easily filled the auditorium above both chorus and orchestra. It was, however, slightly disappointing that this volume was not reduced to quadruple pianissimo at the end of 'Libera Me'.

Mezzo Soprano Sarah Fryer gave an inspired interpretation of both text and music .Equally, David Pomeroy has a gift for communicating with an audience despite sounding a little effortful in places.

John Avey's beautifully warm baritone voice made for a delightful sound both in solo and ensemble singing in the 'Domine Jesu'. .

Overall this was a performance not to be missed.

2003, Lois Carter