Reviews 2009


Monteverdi: Vespers 1610

31/01/2009 Monteverdi’s Vespers 1610
Chelmsford Cathedral

Review from Essex County Standard, February 2009 by Jackie Wallace:

A concert that lifted the spirit

The resonant acoustic and liturgical ambience of Chelmsford Cathedral lent itself to a beautifully-crafted performance of Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers by the Essex University Choir and London Handel Orchestra.

Under the direction of Richard Cooke, the opening plainchant statement by tenor Nathan Vale, followed by the choir’s joyous Gloria, reflected in exciting orchestral scale passages, firmly established the devotional nature of this collection of psalms and concerti.

The mood remained spiritually uplifting throughout.

The six soloists gave impeccably-stylish performances and delivered some truly outstanding feats of vocal ornamentation, which rather than being vehicles for self-aggrandisement, served only to heighten the intensity of the text. Notable moments were the skilfully-achieved echo effect in Audi Coelum, and the exquisite soprano duet, Pulchra Es.

The choir’s unfailing attention to enunciation and sensitive approach to dynamics is commendable. The rhythmic complexities of Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis, were expertly negotiated, the hymn Ave Maris Stella was sublime and superbly controlled and the opening of the Final Magnicat burst forth with real enthusiasm to create a marvellously rich sound.

The audience was obviously overwhelmed and allowed for that all-important moment of silence before showering the performers with much well-deserved applause.