Britten Sinfonia

MICHAEL DRAKE Norwich Cathedral

MICHAEL DRAKE

> Norwich Cathedral

The latest in the series combined the renown of the BS with, for the first time, the choir of St John's College Cambridge in one of the most glorious choral concerts I can remember.

What discipline from the dozen trebles, each with his music folder at exactly the same angle in the opening Haydn Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo - better known as the Little Organ Mass.


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Small in length at least it may be, but conductor David Hill brought attack in the opening, a joyous reverend Sanctus, a ringing treble solo in the Benedictus and balance, precision and musicality throughout.

Later, the same composer's Nelson Mass contained all those qualities with the addition of four high class soloists.

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The choir was powerful and the Sinfonia infectiously versatile in a Benedictus of intensity with “In Gloria Dei” glorious indeed. Between the two masses Aaron Copland's “In the beginning” was a masterpiece of unaccompanied singing in this EDP-sponsored concert with Sian Menna a declamatory mezzo-soprano “commentator” and both she and the choir were immaculate in their diction of the part recitative, part psalm-like music. Try separating “sixth” and “day” without sounding affected! This was music to think by.

The orchestra shone on their own in Stravinsky's Concerto in D for Strings, being just as lucid in the jagged edges as in the more florid passages and always full of energy. A superb evening of no little spirituality also.

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