Gabriel Fauré – Requiem – Danmarks Radio Symfoniorkestret and Koncertkoret – Ivor Bolton

“What a lovely piece with one melody coming at you after another, and this is one of the best performances you’ve ever played for me.”—Mi amigo/My friend

Hola a todos. What a performance! Superb Orchestra (Danmarks Radio Symfoniorkestret) and Chorus (Danmarks Radio Koncertkoret) conducted by Ivor Bolton. He looks like a really nice guy and a pleasure to work with. I hope this Chorus was thrilled with their performance. They should be. Absolutely. Perfect intonation and impeccable diction. This Chorus is now one my favourite Orchestra Choruses.

Consider this performance a Requiem for Notre-Dame de Paris which was badly damaged by fire earlier this week. Musically, it certainly feel right and sets the right mood.

In this performance, we got to hear their large pipe organ. A beautiful instrument and I like the unique way the façade of the pipes were installed which you can see up in the rear of the Concert Hall. The organ is a 4-manual with 91 voices, 118 ranks, and approximately 6,000 pipes. It was built by the Dutch organ builders J.L. van den Heuvel in the Nederlands, specifically the Holland provinces since I saw the word “Holland” on the organ console below the music rack. Holland refers to only the two provinces of Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland — so the organ was built in one of them — although some people mistakenly refer to the Nederlands as “Holland.” That’s like referring to the US as California. There are 12 provinces in the Nederlands.

The organ was also used quietly in their equally superb Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiemperformance which you can read about that. I saw the organist’s hands crawling from one manual to the other as I talked about in this article recently.

I also like the conductor, Ivor Bolton. He looks like a really nice guy. I think he would have been enjoyable to work with and I liked his conducting style, which looked like the Orchestra and Chorus didn’t really need a conductor, but rather someone to guide the performance, which is what he did.

Even when this Chorus performs opera, they’re still listenable for me. (I say that because I’m not into opera). With hesitation I watched their performance of Wagner’s Tannhäuser/Pilgrimskorkor – DRSO – DR Koncertkoret – Lawrence Foster (second video below) realising that it’s opera and it’s expected for the Chorus to sing with some noticeable vibrato. I was just curious how much vibrato they would use, if any, since they usually sing with a smooth, polished straight tone giving them perfect intonation. In the Wagner, both the Men and the Women used a little bit of vibrato — a tasteful amount — and they didn’t quite have that smooth sound they usually have and it sounded a bit fluttery especially in the soprano and alto sections, but not enough for me to click off. I heard no shrill or ugly sounds. The Chorus Director had them sing the Wagner with a rich, darker tone reminding me more of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus under Robert Shaw. Their Chorus Director had them add just the right amount of noticeable vibrato. Very tasteful. Although I would have probably had them keep their usual straight-tone, unless the conductor insisted some vibrato be added. But I enjoyed it. By the way, the Pilgrimskorkor/the Pilgrim’s Chorus is a chorus from the opera Tannhäuser. An opera has choruses that are sung by the Opera Chorus. It’s not a “song” as some people mistakenly refer to it in U-toob comments. A “song” is usually sung by one person or perhaps in a duet. I wrote about that common mistake in this article: I’m looking for that song called Beethoven’s Ninth.

I do indeed hope that this splendid Orchestra and its Chorus are around for years. I read that the Dutch Public Broadcasting Network which they are the ensembles for has had major funding cuts and layoffs in past years. It would be ashame to see their musical ensembles disband. We have nothing like this in the US. There is no npr or PBS Orchestra and Chorus, and I suspect you won’t be seeing them either at the rate things are going over here (downward spiral). Enjoy. Chau.—el barrio rosa