I received a comment asking about the tent that appeared on the Cathedral Piazza last Wednesday. This was a security measure; the tent contained airport-type body scanners and space for bag searches, because of the concert that took place in the Cathedral that evening - The Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus performing Verdi's Requiem - or more specifically because of the presence of HRH Prince Charles at the concert. His presence required a huge amount of security, including closing the Cathedral for a while before the Concert. Photographs (c) Marcin Mazur.
The London Times review was ecstatic:
Can there be a more awesome setting for Verdi's Requiem - the most flamboyant melodrama in the canon of sacred choral masterpieces - than the great Neo-Byzantine nave of Westminster Cathedral? The thwacks of the drum ricocheted around the arches like thunderclaps. The trumpets of the Dies Irae - placed high in the galleries - really did sound like a piercing summons from heaven. True, the reverberant acoustics tended to blur the fast polyphonies of the Sanctus and Libera Me. But the same ambience magically lifted and sustained the pianissimo choral moments - at the opening for instance - seemingly to infinity in the recesses of the vast, dark roof.
This was an auspicious night: a gala concert to mark the 50th anniversary of the Philharmonia Chorus, performed to a packed audience and the Prince of Wales (hence, presumably, the extraordinary body-scanning and bag-searching operation, mounted by dozens of police, that delayed the start by 20 minutes).
If there's one piece that Muti does with supreme drama, it's this. His pacing was impeccable, his control magisterial. And even in these larger-than-life circumstances he managed to elict tenderness in the more intimate moments.