Music review: Fauré Requiem
Edinburgh International Festival Scotsman review: Fauré Requiem at Usher Hall, reviewed by Ken Walton
It was an intriguing programme – the coupling of Debussy and pre-serial Schoenberg in the first half; then distilled Webern clearing the air for the lyrical expansiveness of Fauré’s Requiem. But this Scottish Chamber Orchestra concert, under Robin Ticciati’s caressing direction, didn’t quite meet expectations, dipping occasionally below par.
Not so in Schoenberg-pupil Benno Sach’s crystallised arrangement of Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, the reduced forces of which, including piano and harmonium, gave this familiar Debussy a revitalising charm. And in Webern’s aphoristic 5 Pieces, Op 10, Ticciati captured their condensed magic with cohesive, ravishing incite.
But in the scored out version of Schoenberg’s Verlklärte Nacht, a thin top string section, and general lack of emotional bite, proved a disappointment.
The Fauré, too, bore mixed fortunes, its saving grace being the fresh, incisive immediacy of the National Youth Choir of Scotland, whose expressive range was truly spine-tingling. An enchanting Pie Jesu, too, from treble soloist Daniel Doolan.
Letting it down were frequent behind-the-beat attacks by the SCO, the horns in particular, contrary to the alert choir and organ; and a pale solo performance by veteran baritone Thomas Allen.
Originally published in The Scotsman