Reviews 2003


Mozart: Mass in C minor

University of Essex Choir, London Handel Orchestra/Richard Cooke

Chelmsford Cathedral, November 29

The University of Essex Choir packed Chelmsford Cathedral at the weekend for its magnificent performance of Mozart’s Mass in C minor, K427.

The first half of this all-Mozart concert set a high standard, with professional period instrument band the London Handel Orchestra performing a Don Giovanni overture full of foreboding, and a beautifully sunny Sinfonia concertante for violin and viola. The two young soloists in this work, Adrian Butterfield and Florence Cooke, the former with an established career, the latter still a student, were nonetheless well matched partners. Their perfect ensemble in the first movement cadenza was a pleasure to witness, and the Andante reached levels of profundity that left the whole building hushed.

The second half, with a strong team of vocal soloists, was still more powerful. Whenever I hear the University of Essex Choir I am bowled over by the strength and quality of sound they achieve, and their performance of Mozart’s Mass in C minor this evening was no exception. Particularly impressive was the Gloria’s Qui tollis, where conductor Richard Cooke oversaw some dramatic sudden diminuendos, and the exuberant, rolling fugue in the Hosanna. This is a choir which, though amateur, looks and sounds professional, and gives unfailingly exciting performances.

Janet Banks, Evening Gazette