Energetic and action packed

Sir Andrew Davis
Brisbane Times

By Clive O'Connell

Hamer Hall, Melbourne  ****

A bright sign of life over this dour election-dominated weekend has been Verdi's Requiem, a substantial setting of the mass for the dead by a notable true believer in a political risorgimento, if not a supernatural one.

Sir Andrew Davis, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra's chief conductor, directed a lively reading of this masterpiece, drawing out excellent work from his players as well as the MSO Chorus and its guests, the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs.

The Requiem text offers dramatic opportunities and Verdi seizes on them, to most obvious effect in the Dies irae, that action-packed sequence handled with laudable vigour by the chorus, supported by an MSO that followed Davis' hurtling charge into the apocalyptic fray with impressive energy. Rare pleasures came through a voluble tenor line and the upper strings and brass choir that was a reliable, mobile backdrop to the action.

Bass Jonathan Lemalu replaced an indisposed Brindley Sherratt and powered through the highly exposed Mors stupebit stanza. Davis was equally well served by soprano Amber Wagner and mezzo Jamie Barton. Tenor Rene Barbera's elegantly shaped Ingemisco was a highlight.