Carillon sing Coronation Mass

THAT there has been a gap of around 15 years since Amadeus, the St Albans chamber orchestra, and the city’s Carillon Chamber Choir last came together is just a little surprising.

After hearing the outstanding performance the two groups gave at their joint concert in St Saviour’s Church on Saturday, one can only hope that we do not have to wait another 15 years for a repeat event.

Both groups have built reputations for providing high-quality music and the excellence of Saturday’s concert can only help to enhance their respective standing.

The quality mark was set right at the start of the concert with the performance by both choir and orchestra of Haydn’s Te Deum, which proved instantly that Simon Thompson, Amadeus’s regular conductor, thoroughly understood the needs of both choir and orchestra. The result was a fine balance and sound quality.

Carillon then performed Mendelssohn’s unaccompanied Sechs Spr�che – six sentences for the church’s year. Although brief, the six pieces have a delightful complexity which is a hallmark of Mendelssohn’s magical sounds. The choir’s performance brought out the full richness of the pieces.

For many the high point of the concert was the orchestra’s performance of Gerald Finzi’s exquisite Dies Natalis, a moving setting of a set of texts by the 17th-Century metaphysical poet Thomas Traherne. For this the soloist was internationally renowned tenor Rogers Covey-Crump, who is also president of Carillon.

Finzi’s work is an absolute delight with outstanding and extremely beautiful string passages. Amadeus’s fine playing, coupled with Rogers’ restrained but fine performance, created a moving and uplifting experience.

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The main work of the evening was Mozart’s Coronation Mass.

Although not one of his finest works the mass does have some outstanding moments. In addition to the very fine orchestral playing, the mass allowed Carillon to demonstrate the individual talents of some of its members who sang the solo parts in the work.

Too numerous to name individually, they all exhibited great ability with, for me, the finest moments coming from the quartet in the Benedictus and the fine soprano solo in the Agnus Dei.

Both orchestra and choir blended magnificently under Simon Thompson who exhibited his usual skill in getting the very best from musicians.

One can only hope that another similar evening is not too far away.