Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem Op 45 (German Requiem), as performed by The City of Bath Bach Choir at the Wiltshire Music Centre last Saturday, is a sombre work. Hardly surprising as the word ‘requiem’ usually refers to the Catholic Mass celebrated for the dead. Yet it was easy to feel uplifted as well as deeply moved by the choir’s clarity of diction, the stirring delivery, of Brahms’ harmonic German text.

The immediate members of an almost capacity audience sitting around me could be heard to release approving sighs of pleasure at the end of each of seven movements skilfully and passionately conducted by the highly experienced and internationally renowned Nigel Perrin. This piano-duet accompaniment version of the original choir and full orchestra does allow that text to stand out and gives a different dimension of lightness and precision to the work.
The sublime playing of Marcus Sealy and Nicholas Thorne never intruded on, but only enhanced, the vocals of both choir and solo performer.

In movements three and six, we were treated to the impressive baritone solo of Simon Trist; a commanding presence on stage. The beautiful, slow-moving, opening to Leah Jackson’s soprano solo in movement five only intensified the drama she was to so movingly deliver. The performance ended to thunderous applause from an appreciative audience.

In complete contrast to their previous all-black appearance, the choir entered for the second-half dressed in the most vibrant of colours (including wellington boots and umbrellas) and all to the sound of torrential rainfall. Joined on stage by the CBBC Junior Choir, resplendent in purple, they became a rainbow-feast for the eyes. The cantata Captain Noah and His Floating Zoo by Michael Flanders and Joseph Horovitz, is a light-hearted chronicling of Noah, charged by God to build an ark to preserve mankind and all the creatures of the Earth.

The members of the Junior Choir, under the excellent directorship of Adrienne Hale, brought such an energy and obvious enjoyment to their singing that it became visibly infectious on the smiles of both senior choir and audience alike. A relatively short piece (under thirty minutes), Captain Noah is crammed with wonderful refrains such as from the mocking crowd: Noah! Noah! Don’t do anymore!

Also some superb changes in tempo from Latin-American rhythms, as the animals enter the ark, to a heart-warming waltz as God avows never to send another flood (This is my promise to you, the rainbow overhead). This was a terrific evening’s entertainment from all, but in particular the Junior Choir who inevitably stole a second-half performance of which my nine-year-old daughter remarked would be something all children would enjoy. I agree.

Gordon Eggington Wiltshire Times