UEA Choir and Orchestra

CHRISTOPHER SMITH St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

The Fanfare from Paul Dukas's La Peri gave no fewer than 12 brass players a brief moment to shine at the start of this concert by the UEA Choir and Orchestra, led by Tanya Cracknell, under conductor Howard Williams.

Next came the Te Deum written by Zoltan Kodaly in 1936 for the 250th anniversary of the liberation of Budapest from the Turks.

Celebratory in tone and combining a number of musical traditions, the setting is technically very tricky and makes formidable demands on the performers. The chorus found itself faced with an uphill task, and the general impression was more of stress and strain than of triumphant rejoicing.

Fortunately the soprano soloist, Bibi Heal, rose serene over every problem. She continued in fine form in Haydn's so-called Nelson Mass, with the alto, Eleanor White, in support in a lesser role.

In the famous Quoniam, Leigh Melrose used his baritone voice elegantly and expressively, even if his bottom notes had to be taken largely on trust.

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Plainly more at home with 18th-century music, the chorus sang with a will.

In fact, more variation in volume would have been welcome, more response to the mood of the different sections of the Mass and more sensitive phrasing.

The overall effect was certainly confident and cheerful, but the interpret-ation really did not have much by way of depth.

It was unfortunate that the programme book did not give full Latin texts and translations as today's audiences find

them a valuable aid to appreciation.

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