Alnwick & District Choral Society

Review

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Coronation Anthems and Nelson Mass

Sunday, 6th April 2014, 7.30 pm St Paul's Church, Alnwick

Heaven help us!

A restless and troubled atmosphere was conjured up in Sunday’s performance of Haydn’s ‘Mass for Troubled Times’ by Alnwick and District Choral Society.

With Napoleon having recently hammered at the gates of Vienna and conjuring up all sorts of plans to manipulate religion to his own power-hungry ends, it was no wonder the people felt ill at ease! The situation is echoed in various scenarios in our own time!

The Choral Society nowadays presents itself in a dignified style fitting the music, and the faces of the choir members as they sang reflected real commitment to the mood of the piece.

Four wonderful solos emerged from the lovely textures of the choir’s sound, in places soaring to great heights of impassioned pleading, intensifying the anguish. Having the soloists from within the choir contributed to the cohesion of the work. Hats off to Veronica Gilbert , Margaret Watchorn, Richard Bishopp and Eric Brown for their splendid performances.

In the interval there was a buzz of approval from an appreciative audience. The work that followed was of a very different character, Handel’s Four Coronation Anthems, basically written as background music to enhance the pageant of a coronation, but with the choir now taking centre stage performing the four anthems in succession.

This is not so easy to pull off convincingly because there is a major element missing – the visual drama!

The legato sections were deliciously rich and joyful. I personally would have preferred a little more punch and spikiness in the contrasting sections.

Organist, Alan Gidney, had a marathon task standing in for an orchestra in both works from his console in the wings behind a pillar! The excellent communication between conductor, Peter Brown, and Alan could not have been achieved without a great deal of hard work and attention to detail. They make an excellent team.

JH