Janacek and Dvorak

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Norfolk and Norwich Festival event at Norwich Cathedral


Tireless as well as talented and always enterprising in his choice of programme, John Aplin conducted his 100-strong Norfolk and Norwich Festival Chorus in a late evening concert combining power with emotion in two religious works that brought regional accents of their own to a rich tradition.

Janacek's relatively brief 1901 setting of the Lord's Prayer was attractive and varied in its alternation of energetic and reflective episodes.

It was a pity, though, that arrangements could not be made to project on a big screen the paintings that had helped inspire the setting.

Just to mention the paintings in the programme leaves everyone wondering.

Making a very welcome return to Norwich, Joshua Ellicott, a golden-voiced, golden-haired tenor, brought bright, well-focused tone to solo sections that offered striking contrasts to the choral movements. The ecclesiastical timbre of the harp was added by Lucinda Pennick, and cathedral organist David Dunnett provided the accompaniment.

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His role was more substantial and remarkably satisfying in Dvorak's Mass in D. The chorus, too, grasped its opportunities wholeheartedly. On a couple of occasions, though, the sopranos were rather shrill on their top notes, and there were times when more depth and warmth of vocal colour, especially from the middle voices, might well have created a better effect than extra volume.

Amidst a certain amount of hustle and bustle, no moment was better than the final prayer for peace, when Dvorak stirred feelings by injecting a note of hope at the very last moment.

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