Review: Verdi's Requiem at Philharmonic Hall *****
He’s one of the most in-demand singers in the world with a schedule that fills up years in advance.
But it appears Bryn Terfel might just have a soft spot for Liverpool, and in particular its orchestra (and conductor).
There was the Capital of Culture year concert (in which a woman’s phone went off persistently in the stalls, to which the farmer’s son from Pant Glas quipped “at least it’s in the right key”), followed by another visit in 2009. Then in 2013, he was enticed back – this time for a full artist’s residency, his first.
Given his diary, one can only assume this latest visit, also a residency, was agreed there and then. And lo, here he is, singing in four concerts over the next 10 days.
Still, while Terfel’s might be the starry name above the title, this wonderful performance of Verdi’s mighty Requiem was a terrific team effort – orchestra, choir, international soloists and maestro Vasily Petrenko bringing it all together in one sublime and stirring 90 minutes.
The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir are on a roll, following a magnificent performance of The Sea Symphony 10 days ago with a bold and thrilling Requiem which saw them being applauded not just by the audience but by the soloists too.
Above: Philharmonic Hall
Top: Vasily Petrenko, soloists including Sir Bryn Terfel (right), RLPO and choir. Credit: Mark McNulty
They were beautifully subtle, as was the orchestra, as the the opening bars of the Requiem and Kyrie unfolded, but purposeful through the ‘te decet hymnus’ – a purposefulness that preceded the thundering, torrid Valkrie ride of the Dies Irae, a shattering Judgement Day confrontation.
Their Dies irae, the day of wrath, punctuated proceedings with brutal, exhilarating power, although the choir in full flow was ably matched by four powerful soloists – Spanish soprano Ainhoa Arteta in particular showcasing a lovely full-bodied tone that appeared to float effortlessly to the furthest reaches of the rear circle.
Petrenko savoured all the nuances of Verdi’s rich score, including an emotional and deeply affecting lacrymosa, and a delicate, shimmering lux aeterna. Gorgeous stuff.
Terfel and Petrenko’s next challenge? From requiem to roisterer, with a double helping of Verdi’s larger-than-life hero Falstaff.