Reflection and Remembrance – requiems by Faure and Charpentier. Union Chapel, Islington 12 November 2022. 4****. William Russell.

The Union Chapel, one of London’s secret glories, proved aperfect setting for this performance by Figure, a company setup in the wake of the pandemic, of these two requiems. Figure provide not a concert but an experience. A requiem mass is said or sung for the repose of the souls of the dead so the chapel proved ideal, but it is also part of a service which is interrupted with formal words or personal memories. Here the “interruptions” were provided by the broadcaster Donald Macleod who is blessed with a mellifluous voice and had chosen words that enhanced the work of the quite small orchestra under Frederick Waxman. Of the two the Faure was the more moving although the period instruments necessary for the Faure lent it a surprise visual interest. It was a moving occasion with Rowan Pierce and Ashley Riches, the soloists in the Faure requiem adding to the power of the eight strong choir. The two pieces are completely different so the result was a challenging evening to say the least, but a challenge to accept – what you hear is closer to what the original audiences would have heard rather than what you would expect in concert halls of today.

Conductor: Frederick Waxman.

Soprano: Rowan Pierce.

Bass-baritone: Ashley Riches.

Reader: Donald Macleod.

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