Although it is punctuated with moments of intense drama, Dvořák’s setting of the Requiem Mass is,
at its heart, a meditative, and at times almost subdued exploration of the text. The writing for the voice
is characterised by a mostly direct homophonic compositional style and the solo lines, while lyrically
beautiful, are often understated. It’s as though the composer did not want anything too fancy to
obscure the understanding of the words.
The Three Choirs Festival Chorus responded to this style of choral writing with a clear, direct and
well-articulated performance; good diction, and attention to detail. This was a choir attentive to their
superb conductor, Geraint Bowen, delivering enviable unanimity, richness of tone and a broad dynamic range.
Throughout there was a terrific interplay between this excellent body of singers and quartet
of distinguished soloists, all of whom gave poised and thoughtful interpretations. Mezzo-soprano,
Cathrine Carby brought stature and presence to the opening of Tuba Mirum, and Tenor, Ruairi
Bowen made a particular impact, singing with great beauty of tone, effortless projection and
As if to complement the uncluttered choral writing, Dvořák invests his orchestral writing with
significantly more colour and detail, giving each movement a unique textural signature which creates a
distinctive mood and identity. The Philharmonia Orchestra relished the opportunity this afforded,
giving a bravura performance in the more dramatic passages and playing with delicacy and
sensitivity in the more meditative movements. There were some exquisite pianissimo horn
Presiding over this exceptionally fine assembly of singers and players, conductor, Geraint Bowen,
provided authoritative direction and created an expansive, rich and well-shaped interpretation, filled
with contrast and colour.
This was stunning first evening concert which bodes very well for the rest of the Festival.
Soprano – Anita Watson
Mezzo-soprano – Catherine Carby
Tenor – Ruairi Bowen
Bass – Stephen Logers
Three Choirs Festival Chorus
Conductor – Geraint Bowen