Norwich Philharmonic Chorus

MICHAEL DRAKE St Andrew's Hall, Norwich


Norwich Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra

St Andrews Hall

There seems little connection in the two works in Saturday's choral and orchestral concert and yet the differing emotions engendered were a unifying feature although, in the ultimate, individual interpretation carried the day in both.

Shostakovich's Symphony No 5 in D minor always had a dark, underlying tread to it under the measured control of guest conductor Geoffrey Baker as brass and timpani beneath energetic strings and woodwind gave a strong militarist flavour. The orchestra (leader Ben Lowe) was playfully co-ordinated in the Allegretto before proceeding sombrely via some haunting woodwind passages to the finale where, perversely, upper strings could have made more of it. Not the most optimistic in outlook, the Symphony was nevertheless collectively transmitted by a well integrated orchestra.

And thus to the solemnity of Mozart's Requiem Mass which although not always entirely focussed and needing a rather firmer bedrock, with David Dunnett's conducting it was notable for plenty of choral attack and definition - in fact these were features of the performance. In the first solo quartet, tenor Joshua Ellicott made an immediate impact, somewhat at the expense of a good balance, but this was more than overcome as with soprano Angela Kazimierczuk, Frances Bourne (mezzo-soprano) and Geoff Davidson (bass) they made the Benedictus the centrepiece - if I was restricted to one piece of music, this would be it. The Hostias showed the Chorus in best control and tonal subtlety and the whole was of commitment and enthusiasm. Whoever finished its composition, this work is one which has instant rapport with singers, instrumentalists and audiences.

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Michael Drake.