STYLE: Choral RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 169589-26655 LABEL: Naxos 8573849 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
The inside of the CD jewel cases in most Naxos releases have images of four "also available" items from their extensive catalogue, usually with the implication that if you like one you may well like the others. The four selected for the premiere recording of Timothy Hamilton's 'Requiem' are the Requiems by Benjamin Britten, Herbert Howells, Gabriel Jackson and John Rutter. This puts Hamilton in goodly company but my thoughts as I played his Requiem for the first time were that it reminded me of Arthur Sullivan or Edward Elgar as the music looks back in time. The piece was commissioned in 2012 to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War and draws its inspiration from the Roman liturgy. In 12 movements, it conjures up a vivid sequence of images depicting both the horror of war and the calmness and eeriness of the aftermath of battle, interspersed with moments of sombre and contemplative reflection, most notably in the thoughtful setting of Isaac Watts' "Give Us The Wings Of Faith" and the orchestral interlude "Lest We Forget". The work builds to a powerful and moving conclusion with soprano and then chorus welcoming the souls of the fallen into paradise. The musicians on display are all first rate, including four operatic soloists in Ilona Domich (soprano), Jennifer Johnston (mezzo-soprano), Nicky Spencer (tenor) and David Stout (baritone) and the four are more than adequately supported by the choir Cantoribus along with the Rosenau Sinfonia. While I see that this Requiem could be used liturgically the performance on disc is almost operatic - which is not intended as a criticism. It seems paradoxical to say that I enjoyed a work composed to bring to mind the millions who died in that "war to end all wars" but it was indeed a moving listening experience. And, like Britten's more famous Requiem, it did make me reflect on the tragedy of history and the foolishness of those who will not listen to its lessons.
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