Reviews 2007


Mendelssohn: Elijah
Brahms: Schiksalslied:
Beethoven: Symphony No 7
Bruckner: Mass in F minor

Snape Maltings Concert Hall, 5th May 2007


The dramatic intensity and lyrical beauty of Mendelssohn’s Elijah were fully exploited by The University of Essex Choir and the Essex Sinfonia at their Snape Maltings concert.

The University Choir delivered both operatic intensity and chorale-like precision throughout the evening. The narrative shape of the text (sung clearly in German) was sustained throughout, fully realising Elias’ spiritual revelations.

Conductor Richard Cooke determinedly stoked the choir in a roaring ‘Das Feuer fiel herab’ (the fire descends from heaven) and stroked equally intense and detailed drama through ‘ein stilles, sanftes Sausen’ (a still, small voice).

Nicholas Mulroy’s honeyed tenor offered us a pleading Obadiah, in touch with his feminine side. In Michael Pearce (bass) Elias seemed sometimes less engaged. Anna Leese (soprano) brought all her command and passion to bear through an intense, committed and wonderful performance, well supported by Louise Mott (alto).

The Essex Sinfonia was disciplined under its leader Sarah Sew and seemed to be enjoying the performance. Some well defined brass playing, a lyrical lead cello and instant walls of sound were the highlights of their playing. When all the forces were joined the emotional impact was intense.

Peter Newton (East Anglian Daily Times 12 May 2007)

Charter Hall, 27 January, 2007

Enjoyable programme from choir and orchestra

BRAHMS, Beethoven and Bruckner? -an attractive prospect for a programme which did indeed prove to be most enjoyable.

Beginning with Brahms’ Schicksalslied, or Song of Destiny, the performers immediately bathed their audience in luxurious harmonies in an effective portrayal of the spiritual well-being and contentment in Paradise.

Then, with equal skill and energetic conviction, this tranquillity yielded to frantic turmoil reflecting the sorry and uncertain fate of mortal man.

Richard Cooke’s direction of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony produced an electrifying account from a totally committed orchestra led by Florence Cooke.

The apprehensive tension of the opening preamble was the perfect foil for the jollity of the vivace, jauntily announced by the oboe, and superbly controlled strings in the allegretto allowed for an amazing growth in intensity, which was breathtaking.

Precise rhythms confidently punched out in the speedy scherzo were finely contrasted with the majestic slower trio section, and the finale was taken at a terrific pace with brilliant contributions from the horns, and remarkable stamina from all concerned.

Bruckner’s Mass in F minor revealed the choir’s full potential. Their dynamic control displayed a true and reverential understanding of this work, succeeding admirably in conveying the deep faith of the composer, and they were underpinned by an untiring orchestra, which maintained momentum throughout.

Choir and orchestra took the lion’s share of this score while four soloists effectively emphasised fragments of the text.

Anna Leese, Madeleine Shaw, Daniel Norman and Martin Shaw achieved just the right balance here, and their exquisite Benedictus with its moving cello melody was noteworthy.

JACKIE WALLACE, Essex County Standard
Essex County Standard, 2 February, 2007