City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Mozart Requiem, Usher Hall, Review


By Barbara Bryan - Posted on 15 May 2011

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SCO - group photo
Show Details
Venue: 
The Usher Hall
Company: 
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Performers: 
James Gaffigan (conductor), Susan Gritton (soprano), Karen Cargill (mezzo soprano), Steve Davislim (tenor), David Wilson-Johnson (baritone), members of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Running time: 
120mins

For the final concert in their 2010/2011 season the Scottish Chamber Orchestra chose to not only devote the entire programme to the works of Mozart but to perform compositions written towards the end of his short life. 

The Magic Flute Overture is the introduction to Mozart's last comic opera; the Jupiter symphony no 41, was his last symphony and finally, his very last work, the magnificent choral Requiem in D minor, written in a key that presages doom. 

He was commissioned to write the Requiem at a time when he was frantically busy completing two operas and a Clarinet concerto and this is perhaps why he succumbed to a fatal rheumatic fever whilst writing the lacrimosa in the Requiem. His pupil Franz Xaver Sussmayr completed the piece.

Mozart became a Freemason and in the Magic Flute Overture he employs the trombones to symbolise the three knocks on the door of the Masonic ritual in sonorous chords, played adroitly by the brass section. Conducted by the outstanding young American conductor James Gaffigan, the orchestra set off at a terrific pace, displaying their technical talents.

In the Jupiter symphony the orchestra was superb, illustrating perfectly the zenith of classical form, which Mozart achieved in this symphony looking back to polyphony and anticipating romanticism. And it was refreshing to see Gaffigan enthusiastically stepping off the podium to engage with the string section.

The Requiem, like the Magic Flute, begins on a sombre note - hardly surprising, as Mozart was already fatally ill. The SCO chorus, under the direction of Gregory Batsleer, was superb and most impressively sang without scores. The soloists - Susan Gritton, soprano; Karen Cargill, mezzo soprano; Steve Davislim, tenor and David Wilson-Johnson, baritone - were perfectly balanced in the Recordare Quartet. And the SCO choir created great vocal climaxes in Rex Tremendae.

An innovative programme the whole evening was a memorable tribute to the genius of Mozart's last compositions and duly appreciated by a packed house in the Usher Hall.

Show was 14 May 2011