Mozart's Requiem was the major work of the second half of the program. There was a noticeable, gratifying change in the delivery of the entire performance. Wachner conducted with nice, lilting tempos, allowing the music to simply float. In the Introitus, the chorus filled the hall with a glorious sound, singing with a committed resonance that I was longing for in the first half of the concert. Soprano Arianna Zukerman's introduction came in the Te decet hymnus Deus in Sion. Zukerman revealed a radiant soprano that projected wonderfully into the hall. The chorus tossed of the brisk tempo of the fugal Kyrie like mere child's play, singing with verve and finesse. Probably the most familiar chorus, the Dies irae the perfect vehicle for the chorus to sing with the power of an opera chorus. In the Quantus tremor, the chorus made use of crescendi and legatissmi to stunning effect, bringing attention not only to the day of wrath, but to the one who will ultimately judge.
Baritone Sanford Sylvan rendered the Tuba mirum devout assurance, projecting with great confidence. Likewise, tenor William Hite revealed a brilliant tenor, singing with an assertive clarion delivery. Heather Johnson possessed a rich, warm mezzo that nicely filled out the contours of the quartet singing. Soprano Ariana Zuckerman simply soared, as if her voice was a passageway to heaven.
Rex tremendae invoked such a sense of majesty, contrasting with the divine serenity of the chorus on the text Salva me, echoing the sentiment of 'save me' pleaing for mercy. The tempo of the Recordare was faster than I had been accustomed to hearing it. The soloists seemed not too be able to 'milk' the elasticity of the long phrases of the quartet, which usually is a showcase for the seamless quality of the vocal line. The Confutatis highlighted the solid, full-bodied singing of the tenors and basses and the seraphic voices of the sopranos and altos. In the Lacrymosa, the chorus sang with such emotion, from the sense of weeping to the crescendo of the final Amen. The Domine Deus was a sung as a joyful expression of faith. Sanctus sounded forth in stately grandeur, sung with hymn-like quality, followed by the fugal Osanna. Bringing the work to a close were the Agnus Dei and the Lux aeterna, in which the chorus lifted our hearts in comtemplation towards hope and reconciliation.
The Washington Chorus under the leadership of Julian Wachner continues to astound its audiences with the exciting programs that it currently presents. In the post concert talk, the audience had a chance to dialogue with composer Marjorie Merryman and Maestro Wachner about the evolution of the presentation of Jonah and the Mozart Requiem. The appealing youthfulness and fresh repertoire is a welcome invitation to a new audience of listeners.