Gabriel Fauré: Requiem

Saturday 7 July 2018 at St Mary's Church, Prestbury, Cheltenham

There are several things for which I will stop the world. English success in the 2018 World Cup is currently one of them, and among the rest is a performance of Fauré’s Requiem. Under their assured musical director David Dewar, Musica Vera cruised smoothly through a splendid performance of this perennial gem, proving once again that, with disciplined and harmonious choirs, small is still beautiful.

Though few in number, this ensemble punched impressively above its weight all evening, and St. Mary’s Church re-echoed exquisitely to a sumptuous blend of voices, well balanced and displaying particular strength in the high tenor and soprano lines.

Having set out its stall with Gluck’s De Profundis Clamavi, the choir briefly gave way to a polished rendition of Johann Stamitz’s Sinfonia in E Flat Major by the recently formed Musica Vera Camerata, before re-asserting itself with two demanding pieces Benedicam Dominum and Ecce Sacerdos Magnus by Josef Haydn’s younger brother Johann. (No, I didn’t know he had one, either) The quality level dipped momentarily as a slightly uneven presentation of Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine, invariably on the same bill as his Requiem, closed the first half.

To the main event, then, and they swiftly upped the ante during the resonant opening Introit and Kyrie, whilst driven by some sturdy horn work, Sanctus and Agnus Dei built powerfully to their thrilling climaxes. The two solos Pie Jesu and Libera Me were delivered with pin-point accuracy by Isobel Wiltshire and Michael Fryers respectively, and the blissful In Paradisum left me in seventh heaven. At the end of a delightful evening’s entertainment, the prolonged applause from the small, but appreciative audience told its own eloquent story.

Simon Lewis, Gloucestershire Echo