Requisite Requiem

Mozart Requiem (Queensland Symphony Orchestra)

QPAC, Concert Hall

March 24

 Mozart’s ‘Requiem’ is something of an event and, accordingly, the iconic masterpiece is a requisite program for any classical music audience. It therefore represents an appropriate crescendo to the latest of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s Choral Series, which also features an Act One selection of the composer’s most brilliant concert arias.

In the final year of his short life, Mozart was commissioned to write a Requiem, or Mass for the Dead to honour the memory of an anonymous patron’s wife. He devoted all his energy to completing the Requiem, although interrupted by other commissions. By the time he returned to it, he was seriously ill, dying in Vienna in 1791 at just 35 years old, meaning that its completion was left to his friend and pupil Franz Sussmayr.


The fact that Mozart was, in effect, writing his own requiem, adds obvious poignancy to what is already a brilliant piece, and it is an added emotion depth realised in a performance that is equally tragic and uplifting. Although not as dynamic as some other QSO outings, there’s a real energy to the night with tremendous climaxes. Soloists are well cast and couplings carefully considered. Tenor Kang Wang’s voice is a particular standout, technically impressive with glorious warmth, in both Act One’s Concert Aria ‘Per pieta, non ricercate, K. 420’ and in the early movements of ‘Requiem’. And Soprano Kiandra Howarth’s rich realisation of ‘Vado, ma dove, o dei, K. 583’ affords a melancholy merge into Act Two.

There is something incredibly moving to the experience of moments of reverberated silence within the Concert Hall, and ‘Requiem’ allows for this in its quietness.  Still, Conductor, Ainars Rubikis keeps a taut pace amid the fluidity with passionate approach and masterful movement of the orchestra and chorus courtesy of Ensemble-in-Residence The Australian Voices, whose voices blend beautifully. And the orchestra is in top from, particularly the string section, in their simultaneously vigorous and refined Act One introduction ‘Overture to Die Zauberflote’ (The Magic Flute).

Other than grief, ‘Requiem’ carries no real narrative on its own and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra captures all the pathos and quiet beauty of the work, written by a young man knowingly nearing his death. In their ever-capable hands it is a dark and powerful work, but also an energetic and ultimately uplifting one, making the dynamic and passionate concert certainly worthy of being filmed for broadcast by Foxtel Arts, QSO Season 2016 broadcast partner.