Review: Portsmouth Choral Union at Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral

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Why on earth (I wondered) did Portsmouth’s biggest classical choir want to tackle so delicate a flower as Faure’s Requiem? Well, the answer came in the opening Introit and Kyrie, in the loud/soft contrast in the words ‘Christe eleison’ - Christ have mercy.

With 120-plus singers as dynamic in phrasing as they were disciplined under David Gostick’s direction, the impact was extraordinary.

The quality of quietness was stunning again in the Offertorium, and the thrill of the Sanctus was countered in Pie Jesu by solo soprano Faye Eldret’s serenity and then by a hollow-toned ‘sempiternam requiem’ (eternal rest).

Even the use of organ instead of orchestra, usually a disappointment, became a virtue, with PCU deputy director Ian Richardson finding character and clarity in every phrase, enhancing the whole performance.

Earlier, Ms Eldret found Gallic rapture in three Faure songs and baritone Alexander Poulton rightly refused to overload the emotion in three Finzi settings – most effectively in Thomas Hardy’s poignant To Lizbie Browne.

Oh yes, and there was Elgar too – and PCU did him proud again.