Norwich School Choral Society
CHRISTOPHER SMITH Norwich Cathedral
Three sacred works - one of the late 18th century and two from the last quarter of the 19th - made an interesting, stylistically varied and challenging programme for the great vocal and instrumental forces under conductor Colin Dowdeswell.
The opening of Mozart's Vespers did not quite gel. The tone was thin and the ensemble unsteady. With growing confidence, though, the sequence of psalm settings was soon sounding better. After the choir had brought out the sinewy character of a passage in traditional church style, Lynsey Docherty gave a smoothly elegant performance of the more modern, heart-melting soprano solo.
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And she seized the second chance to receive admiration with her assurance in the Pie Jesu in Fauré's Requiem.
The bass Orlando Schenk, was less successful in conveying rather different emotions in his two important passages. The massed singers reigned back their power for their tuneful and at times deliberately understated passages.
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The lower strings, like the organist Miles Quick, made their particular contributions creating mood in exposed episodes.
It was good to hear the full orchestral version of Stanford's Te Deum, adding another layer of Victorian enthusiasm.
The choir responded with tireless exuberance, making the most of the alternation of meditative and triumphant sections. Ruth Peel and Michael Bennett, the alto and the tenor who had only limited scope in the Mozart work, took a second opportunity to impress.