Reviews 2008

2008

Haydn: Harmoniemesse
Handel (arr Mozart): Messiah, Part I and Hallelujah Chorus


26/01/08 Harmoniemesse (Haydn)
Messiah, Part I and Hallelujah Chorus (Handel, arr Mozart)
Charter Hall, Colchester

Review from Essex County Standard, Friday, 1 February 2008, of concert on 26 January 2008

Soloists shine on choral night

University of Essex Choir/Richard Cooke, Charter Hall, Colchester .

‘PLEASE be advised that it is not necessary to stand for the Hallelujah Chorusf’ came the onstage announcement-Messiah, 21st-rentury-style.

This was Mozart’s version of Messiah, so now and then an odd touch in the instrumentation pulled you up short, or the soloists took more florid lines usually sung by the choir.

The choir was in particularly fine form, its new layout defying the less-than-ideal acoustics of the hall.

The four soloists excelled, with contralto Heather Shipp making up with tone quality what she lacked in projection. ‘His Yoke is Easy’, the quartet sang together – and it sounded it. There was an atmosphere of magical stillness for tenor Nicholas Mulroy’s dignified entry at ‘Comfort ye’, and bass Mark Stone sung with very expressive declamation in ‘But who may abide’. Sophie Bevan’s silky soprano enhanced the famous angel and shepherd scene, with the angelic hosts very delicately portrayed, both in the choir’s ‘Glory to God’ and at their eventual ascent on a flute trill.

After the interval, Haydn’s Harmoniemesse featured much more full choral singing, notable for a beautifully rounded, well-blended sound.

The crescendo in the Credo at ‘Deum de deo’ was most effectively accomplished; the sopranos relished their chromatic ascent in the Hosanna, and the Benedictus was marvellously airy and light.

JANET BANKS