UEA Choir and Orchestra

CHRISTOPHER SMITH The programme was entirely French, but that did not mean it was all of a piece.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

The programme was entirely French, but that did not mean it was all of a piece. Georges Bizet's Te Deum had the brash vigour of youth. The UEA Choir under John Aplin enjoyed its opportunities for letting things go with a swing, and soprano Harriet Fraser and tenor Joshua Ellicott joined in solos with the heroic ring.

The contrast offered by Francis Poulenc's Stabat Mater would have been even more striking if the over-enthusiastic orchestra had not swamped the very quiet, low-lying opening for the basses. Still, it was not long before the balance improved and the mood was restored.

Some unaccompanied passages came over particularly well, and the variety of invention in the setting of a unified text was quite remarkable. Only the chirpiness of the music for “She Mourned and Grieved” seemed rather out of place. That, though, was the composer's choice, not the singers', and for the most part deep emotions had the ring of sincerity. A glimpse of paradise at the end was hailed with fervour.

Sharon Choa conducted the Fantastic Symphony by Berlioz, the UEA Orchestra responding to her limitless nervous energy to present the succession of five Romantic episodes with flexibility and very satisfying tone colour. There was poetry here, as well as passion and percussion.

t The concert took place at St Andrew's Hall.