City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

EIF 2015: Mozart's Requiem, Usher Hall, Review

By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 19 August 2015

Ivan Fischer © Marco Borggreve 4_edited-2.jpg
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The Usher Hall
Budapest Festival Orchestra
Running time: 
Mozart, Symphony No 38 in D major K504 'Prague'; Mozart, Requiem in D minor K626
Iván Fischer (conductor), Christopher Bell (chorus master), Miah Persson (soprano), Barbara Kozelj (mezzo-soprano), Jeremy Ovendon (tenor), Konstantin Wolff (bass).

Mozart is believed to have visited Prague three times. His Symphony No 38 was first performed there on his first visit in 1787 when his Le nozzle di Figaro was already a hit. What has become known as The Prague Symphony pulled in the crowds and it still does today. The Budapest Festival Orchestra was conducted by Iván Fischer who was one of its founders in 1983. There were times particularly towards the end of the first movement when the orchestra was taking control away from its conductor. Nevertheless it proved an appropriate opener for the choral work that followed.

Mozart had not finished his Requiem when he died at the age of 35. What he had written was added to for his funeral but much has been written about the versions that then developed. Franz Xaver Süsssmayr, a pupil of Mozart, is given much of the credit.

The Edinburgh Festival Chorus is celebrating its fiftieth birthday and 120 of them were standing behind the orchestra in soprano, alto, tenor and bass order. It was a shame that there were some ragged entries from the men. At the same time it was noticeable that both contralto and tenor soloists dropped their voices at the end of phrases.

As the Requiem progressed Iván Fischer gave suitable pauses for some reflection on the music intended for a funeral service. But the notion of a concert performance of a service for someone who has died in itself has to be a compromise. The applause at the end - when the Requiem had sung the deceased through to the final resting place, has to be balanced with thanks to the musicians. Last night's performance left me uneasy whether that compromise had been achieved.

Performance was at 8.00pm on Tuesday 18th August 2015.