Reviews 2013


Haydn: The Creation
Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem

Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem
Strauss: Tod und Verklärung

St Edmundsbury Cathedral
Saturday May 4th 2013

The University of Essex Choir and the Essex Sinfonia directed by Richard Cooke gave an inspiring performance of two contrasting and complementary works in the Cathedral of St Edmundsbury, Bury St. Edmunds on Saturday May 4th. Richard Cooke drove the Essex Sinfonia with energetic determination. Their response was to give a vigorous performance of the tone poem Tod und Verklärung where the narrative shape of Strauss’s writing was emphasised and the emotional conviction often overwhelming.
Having portrayed transfiguration through death in the first half of the concert the Essex Sinfonia was joined by The University of Essex Choir for a brooding performance of Brahms life affirming Ein Deutsches Requiem. When at its best the crafted performance travelled effortlessly from an intense evocation of spiritual mourning, through a visceral landscape of vanity and riches to heavenly consolation and redemption. There were times when the clear articulation and ensemble of the choir became less even, particularly in the two fugues that punctuate the baritone solo passages. Richard Cooke skillfully wove Charles Rice, baritone and Sofia Niklasson, soprano into the overall ensemble where they lent texture and intensity to the performance and left us with memorable moments of illumination and interpretation. Judging by their enthusiastic response the large audience enjoyed the concert and were pleased to share its often intense and emotional evocations.

Peter Newton

Haydn: The Creation
St Edmundsbury Cathedral
Saturday January 26th 2013

The University of Essex Choir and the London Handel Orchestra, under the direction of Richard Cooke, produced an inspiring performance rich in colour and expressive variety of Joseph Haydn’s oratorio The Creation in The Cathedral of St. Edmundsbury, Bury St. Edmunds, on Saturday 26th January.
The opening text demonstrated perfect pianissimo from the choir and outstanding vocal flexibility from the bass soloist, Derek Welten as Raphael. Throughout his performance Derek Welton enjoyed the huge demands placed on his vocal range. The choir’s declamation und es ward Licht (and there was Light) was stunning.
Haydn’s Oratorio is a celebration of the glory of creation, with Man at its peak – König der Natur (King over all nature). The woodwind, flutes, contra bassoon and strings of the London Handel Orchestra were in their element as they filled the Cathedral with nightingales, larks and imaginary inhabitants of the watery deep.
With expressive singing and playing the interpretation of the sunrise was breathtaking. Benjamin Hullett (tenor), as Uriel, sparkled and smiled one moment and was beautifully lyrical in the next. Soprano, Anna Patalong, seemed less at home in German but this did not detract from some beautiful singing.
There were times, more so in the first half, when more eyes up and more words would have improved the choir ensemble. The choir were spot on when Laßt euren Lobgesang erschallen (let your joyful song resound) was sung with the conviction that has become the hallmark of this choir. Overall a wonderful performance uplifted the packed cathedral.
Robin Greatorex