Harpenden choir's first principles for Rossini's Messe
ANYONE listening to Rossini s Petit Messe Solenelle for the first time and without any understanding of the words could be forgiven for thinking they were listening to an opera. Coming as it did towards the end of the composer s career in which he wrote m
ANYONE listening to Rossini's Petit Messe Solenelle for the first time and without any understanding of the words could be forgiven for thinking they were listening to an opera.
Coming as it did towards the end of the composer's career in which he wrote more than 40 operas, that is probably not surprising but the result is that the soloists in the work sing more like principals on stage and the choir simply becomes a chorus.
For the Harpenden-based Hardynge Choir this arrangement was the great saviour of their performance of the work at Harpenden High Street Methodist Church on Saturday.
For the four soloists, soprano Elizabeth Cragg, contralto Lorna Perry, tenor Pascal Charbonneau and bass Daniel Jordan were all outstanding and each gave marvellous performances, as did pianist Anna Le Hair and harmonium player Mark Jordan.
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One of the first major highlights of the work is the truly operatic working of Domine Deus, which Rossini turned into a glorious tenor aria in his finest style and Canadian-born Pascal Charbonneau sang it for all it was worth, demonstrating his outstanding vocal qualities.
That was immediately followed by Qui tollis where soprano Elizabeth Cragg and contralto Lorna Perry demonstrated their equally-fine singing ability. The two were excellently matched and added greatly to the overall enjoyment of the evening.
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Bass Daniel Jordan showed exactly the same qualities as the other soloists throughout the performance.
Although the harmonium is far from my favourite instrument, Mark Jordan's performance of the Prelude Religioso in the second half was a demonstration of fine playing which resulted in some excellent sounds and pianist Anna Le Hair gave fine support throughout the evening.
The choir still has problems which its director Catherine Beddison needs to address, foremost of which is the inability, particularly of the sopranos, to make a clean start to any section.
But there were some fine moments particularly in the Sanctus and the final Agnus Dei where they accompanied Lorna Perry's outstanding solo.