Orchestra of the Swan and King's Lynn Festival Chorus

MICHAEL DRAKE King's Lynn Corn Exchange (King's Lynn Festival)

MICHAEL DRAKE

King's Lynn Corn Exchange (King's Lynn Festival)

One of the joys of the Festival is that whilst its reputation attracts international artists and audiences from far out of the county, it still retains its friendly ambience.

For the Bespak-sponsored opening on Sunday evening, local input came from the large Festival Chorus and a forthright beginning with Mozart's arrangement of the Hallelujah Chorus. Not surprisingly the concert was devoted solely to Mozart and the second half to the Requiem in D Minor.

Singing without copies, the chorus adopted a rather exaggerated “English” Latin whilst the conductor, Michael Kibblewhite, set a sedate pace throughout. Despite being heavily outnumbered, the gentlemen more than held their own in a well balanced choir, although from time to time the top line moved up a note rather than hit dead centre.

Its spiritual heart was probably Lacrimosa, with sensitive singing also in the Hostias and Agnus Dei sections. Then came the addition of the Benedictus from the young solo quartet - soprano of clarity Elizabeth Watts (with perhaps too much emphasis on “solo”), rich and full-voiced mezzo, Patricia Orr, strong English tenor, Adrian Ward and anchor baritone Hakan Vramsmo. Chorally subtle it wasn't, but the powerful performance was notable for good diction and definition of lines and warmed the hearts of a receptive audience.

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Earlier, Timothy Orpen was the soloist in Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A major. After the long introduction from the chamber forces of the impressive and delightfully named Orchestra of the Swan, leader David Le Page, showed off his tonal variation.

Always on the move (sometimes to distraction) his subtlety in the Adagio added to its reputation as one of music's most sublime movements to complete a splendid musical start to the next two weeks.

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