Music / “Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Requiem”, ANU Choral Society, Wesley Uniting Church, Forrest, 20 May. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.
Unfinished work of genius, timeless and sacred, Mozart’s “Requiem” goes beyond the religious framework. Along with his “Coronation Mass”, these two works span his short and extraordinary life.
At the Wesley Uniting Church on May 20, under the direction of Matthew Stuckings, with Anthony Smith on organ, the Choral Society of ANU (SCUNA) performed two profound choral works by Mozart.
Beginning with the “Coronation Mass”, the more than 30 singers were in full voice from the opening note. The “Gloria” was a particularly powerful rendition. Smith on organ, along with the full choir, created a glorious sound. The “Credo” that followed sat in the same realm as the “Gloria”.
The choir is a good mix of ages and voices that blend well to form a quality ensemble that creates strength and subtlety through its flow and intonation.
Between the choir, the organist and the conductor, the timing of the choir was a pleasure to hear; accurate without fail. This is something that some non-professional bands sometimes struggle with. It showed that they had rehearsed well and were doing the same. Some of their individual voices lack the confidence to sing forcefully, so they sing under their ability. Perhaps more solo and small group work would overcome these small imperfections.
Mozart’s “Coronation Mass” is an even and well-tempered work. It does not go where his requiem goes, but it is like all of Mozart’s works, particularly well written and balanced. The last movement ended this mass in a pleasant and happy way.
The thematic material for Mozart’s “Requiem” may come from a variety of sources, but this transcendent work not only encapsulates the life of perhaps the greatest composer, it is also an extraordinary piece of music. From its opening note, there is little about this music that is not well known and loved.
The organist Smith, who accompanied perfectly, is a bit of an underrated local treasure. His knowledge of music is astounding. He teaches at Canberra Boys Grammar, and those who work with him know how indispensable his skills and knowledge are to the local music community.
As this piece develops, it becomes grander and deeper. It may not be the greatest requiem of all time, but it is a powerful and moving work that feels isolated.
Stuckings is a joyful conductor to watch and listen to. His insightful commentary on the works performed entertains and informs with delight.
Although the quality of the chorus has dropped a little towards the end, this requiem is a piece that can and should amaze, no matter how many times it is heard. Its ability to move a person through its profound effect and meaning is something that makes it a timeless and transcendent work.
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Ian Meikle, editor