UEA Choir and Symphony Orchestra
CHRISTOPHER SMITH St Andrew's Hall, Norwich
St Andrew's Hall, Norwich
Resisting the temptation of opting for festive works for this end-of-term concert, conductor Howard Williams preferred to contrast two different styles of sacred music with Latin texts. He added further variety with Bach's First Brandenburg Concerto, with a particularly enjoyable Trio.
Stravinsky's Mass impressed from the outset with its cool austerity. After something very close to chanting in the Credo, some additional melodic decoration naturally made an even greater impression in the more deeply felt later movements.
Though the wind ensemble added much interest and character the instrumentalists missed a trick by playing too loud when accompanying the light-voiced female semi-chorus.
A note in the programme booklet described Faure's Requiem as “intimate, peaceful and loving, with none of the horrors of death.” But the choir and orchestra, with backing from Roger Rayner at the organ, grasped every opportunity for bringing out dramatic qualities and searing emotions. The result was certainly stirring, even if there were moments when the climaxes, towards the end of the Sanctus for instance, were a little rough.
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Two young soloists made the best of fine opportunities. Francis Pearson, who graduated from UEA in the summer, sang Pie Jesu with chaste, well-focused intensity, and Tom Lowe, formerly of Gresham's, used his consistent dark tone to good effect. Like the chorus, though, he might have sometimes done more to
bring out the meaning of individual key words.