Elijah

CHRISTOPHER SMITH St John's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

> St John's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Norwich

Tall and elegant, Rodney Clarke made an admirable Elijah, even if perhaps a little young for the venerable prophet as he moved on from a life of religious combat to self-examination before death.

His voice was a strong, flexible bass-baritone, with timbre changing to match different emotions, and he took the trouble to make his words clear.


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Ian Partridge's diction was exemplary, too, in the tenor's tuneful, but far briefer arias in Mendelssohn's oratorio.

The pair of female soloists plainly thought tone more important than text. Both sounded magnificent all the time but generally meant a good deal less. Soprano Helena Dix was resplendent in the mystic raptures of Holy, Holy. The role of her mezzo colleague Ivana Dimitrijevic was to give deep voice to messages of consolation.

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A delightful moment of utter sentiment had come when a trio serenely intoned Lift Thine Eyes, high up in the tower gallery.

The varied forces required for this complex work were under the control of Chris Bell, the cathedral's master of music.

His orchestra provided the striking instrumental backing needed to emphasise the unfolding drama.

The chorus also made great efforts, though without really reaping the rewards they deserved – there was not enough spine-chilling menace when they called on the savage god Baal.

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