“Sell-out” is well-deserved

                                                    says Robin Gregory

 

 

Eastbourne Choral Society’s Mozart concert on March 13th proudly displayed the words “Sold- out” on the steps of the Town Hall.  The performances of four of Mozart’s finest works fully justified the ticket-sales.

Conductor John Hancorn displayed his usual control and musical judgment;  and the choir responded with singing which ranged from a blazing fortissimo to a whispered piano as occasion demanded.  Clearly rehearsals had been well-spent, as was evident from the opening short Ave Verum Corpus. The Eastbourne Players (not, as one might think from their title, a drama group, but thirty or so talented orchestral players led by Christopher Phipps) provided strong instrumental support.

The second item brought young soprano Katie Trethewey singing Laudate Dominum.  This exquisite example of Mozart’s writing for the high female voice received a fine performance from an artist already experienced in Handel:  her bright, forward sound carried  well in the Town Hall acoustic. 

 The remainder of the first half was devoted to the Clarinet Concerto.   Soloist Nick Carpenter is principal clarinet in the Academy of St Martin-in-the Fields, and he explained that he was using a basset clarinet, which is slightly longer than the normal instrument and is capable of producing lower notes.  His performance showed the familiar concerto in a new light;  and he gave this much-loved work a presentation to treasure.  His sound was even and velvety throughout  the entire range, yet displayed extraordinary brilliance, dexterity and musicality.

After refreshment, the whole evening was devoted to Mozart’s Requiem.  When Jehovah called 35 year-old Mozart to stir up the music in Heaven, the composer left the Requiem incomplete.  His pupil Süssmayr completed it, and recent scholarship has argued about how much he knew of Mozart’s intentions;  but God condescended to breathe on the work in such a way that it is a remarkably satisfying testament to Mozartean genius.  The four soloists (Katie Trethewey, Catherine Denley, Roberto Ortiz and Oliver Dunn) are given little in the way of extended solos;  but they inspired and blended with one another and with the choir perfectly.  Contralto Catherine Denley has been gracing  oratorio for many years (though her youthful appearance and creamy sound showed no sign of time passing);  tenor and baritone are young singers with big futures ahead of them; the soprano  is well into a rising curve of youthful success.  They and the orchestra were exemplary;  and the Eastbourne Choral has never sounded better. A knowledgeable audience gave them the ecstatic reception they all deserved.

 

 

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                                         Charity Registration No 1063701

                                         Charity Registration No 1063701

                                         Charity Registration No 1063701

                                         Charity Registration No 1063701

                                         Charity Registration No 1063701

                                         Charity Registration No 1063701

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