Reviews 1997


Bruckner: Mass in F minor
Brahms: Gesang der Parzen
Brahms: Violin Concerto in D

University choir gives excellent performance
May 26

Brahms, Snape Maltings

It was refreshing to hear Brahm’s rarely performed Gesang der Parzen (Song of the Fates) in his anniversary year, and the University of Essex Choir, the Essex Sinfonia and conductor Richard Cooke are to be congratulated on their performance as well as their choice.

There was a fine sense of balance throughout and the chorus sang the German texts with conviction.

In the familiar Violin Concerto in D the soloist, Krzystof Smietana, gave a powerful performance with satisfying tone and phrasing. The reflective “adagio”, with a good oboe solo, had a delicate feel, and the last movement’s gipsy rondo was played with rhythmic vigour and crispness. Richard Cooke guided the orchestra with restraint, and their accompaniment was considerate.

Bruckner’s Mass in F minor is a taxing work, especially for the choir. Many details show the influence of Wagner, including the orchestra of symphonic proportions, which in it exuberance was at times in danger of overwhelming the vocal forces.
The solo quartet, Julie Kennard, Deborah Miles-Johnson, James Oxley and Kevin O’Donnell, were all well balanced, and James Oxley’s tenor solo ‘Et incarnatus est’ was particularly moving.

Hilary Furlong