Norwich School - Schubert and Haydn
CHRISTOPHER SMITH Norwich Cathedral
> Norwich Cathedral
Norwich School is proud to number Horatio Nelson among its old boys. So it's only natural its Choral Society and Gateway Players, led by Todd Smithurst, should mark the bicentenary of the hero's death by performing Haydn's 'Nelson Mass.'
History says when he wrote it the composer hadn't got the admiral in mind. But there is plenty of reflection of troubled times in the music, the musical genius did meet the great sailor a couple of years later, and the name has stuck. In any case, it is a splendidly energetic, vivid piece of church music.
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Under their conductor, Colin Dowdeswell, the serried ranks of pupils, parents and friends went about their work with a will, as the orchestra added the pomp of brass to the string accompaniment.
The climax in particular had a ring to it. But perhaps the most impressive moment was in the Sanctus.
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Here, as the score specified, the opening moments were restrained, as if to capture a particular sacred moment.
Then came a crescendo. But tone only increased so far, leaving it possible to hear clearly how the instrumental patterns were developing underneath.
Rebecca Kelly brought style and shapeliness to the alto solos.
More impact was made by the soprano Fiona Hammacott. With a confident smile, she sailed through the complexities of her ornamented line and rose triumphantly to her top notes.
Damian Carter showed fine dark tone until asked to fathom the depths. Joshua Ellicott, a fine tenor, made the most of rather limited possibilities.
The concert had opened with the Mass in G by Schubert, not one of his more extended works nor perhaps the most inspired. The singers did not seem to find the middle sections of the Credo as interesting as the opening and closing movements. It was not hard to feel some sympathy with them.