Alnwick & District Choral Society

President, Her Grace, Elizabeth, Duchess of Northumberland

Review: Northumberland Gazette April 28th 2011

Choice provides fascinating insight

The choir and soloists

Alnwick and District Choral Society, Mozart Requiem and Other Works, Sunday, March 27, St Paul's Church, Alnwick.

THE choice of music for the spring concert was a particularly interesting one.

Four short choral works from Mozart's earlier years, played before the interval followed by the Requiem which was composed at the very end of his life, offered fascinating insights into how the composer matured and developed his compositional skills over his short but musically prolific life. He died aged only 35.

The four short pieces, including the Missa Brevis in D composed at the early age of 13, are all delightful pieces in their own right and show vividly just how prodigiously talented Mozart was from an early age.

The choir made a confident entry at the beginning of the first piece, Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, and that confidence was sustained admirably throughout the whole concert. Three of the four early pieces are not regularly performed yet they are all delightful to listen to. The fourth, Laudate Dominum is a well-known concert favourite of astonishing beauty and maturity. in this piece, delicately sung by solo soprano Clare McKenna, the choir demonstrated their ability to sing gently and quietly in accompaniment.

The Requiem was Mozart's last major work before his untimely death and is considered by many to be his master-work.

From the spine-tingling opening bars right through to the concluding Agnes Dei the piece holds the attention of the listener through its profound and moving beauty. But it is not easy to sing. The choir however was on top form and it was a very satisfying and convincing performance.

The four solo professionals were well chosen for these works. Clare McKenna, soprano; Heather Burns, mezzo soprano; Paul Rendall, tenor and Paul Gibson; baritone.

All performed well in their solo parts demonstrating their very different voices.

In the quartet, Benedictus, they sand together particularly well as though they have regularly performed this work together. When I asked them afterwards however I learned that they had never before performed together as a quartet. This was impressive.

What was perhaps most striking about the whole concert was the way that the choir and conductor, Peter Brown, have confidence in each other and appear to enjoy working together. Peter Brown held everything together tautly and in a musically very satisfying manner. The choir and soloists in turn were responsive to him. This mutual confidence undoubtedly had much to do with the fine quality of the performance.

Alan Gidney played the organ and his contribution deserves recognition as having been integral to the overall quality of the concert.

A satisfying, interesting and most enjoyable performance. GA

The choir and soloists after their triumphant performance

From left to right: Heather Burns (mezzo-soprano); Paul Rendall (tenor); Duchess Elizabeth: Paul Gibson (baritone): Claire McKenna (Soprano): Peter Brown (conductor)