Hertfordshire Chorus rules its Kingdom at St Albans Abbey

PUBLISHED: 10:18 14 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:53 06 May 2010

HERTFORDSHIRE Chorus performed Elgar s The Kingdom in St Albans Abbey on Saturday night. The work is a sequel to The Apostles, published in 1906, the second part of a triptych that Elgar did not complete. Hertfordshire Chorus is often at its best in such

HERTFORDSHIRE Chorus performed Elgar's The Kingdom in St Albans Abbey on Saturday night.

The work is a sequel to The Apostles, published in 1906, the second part of a triptych that Elgar did not complete.

Hertfordshire Chorus is often at its best in such large works and was well rehearsed and on top form - disciplined and controlled in louder sections, with excellent ensemble and good balance and intonation.

Words, always a problem in this acoustic, were sometimes lost but in quieter sections diction was excellent, the mystic chorus simply superb with wonderful bell-like high sopranos, and elsewhere, neat and light singing from the men.

Soprano Naomi Harvey was also at her best in the more reflective sections but occasionally had difficulty rising above the orchestra and while the content of the mezzo-soprano part does not hold as much interest, Julia Batchelor-Walsh sang with musicality and vigour.

Particularly impressive were Alan Oke (tenor) and Peter Savidge (bass). The duo section in The Sign of Healing was for me the high point of the evening; emotional, impassioned and intense.

Peter Savidge was outstanding throughout with seemingly effortless control and stamina and a full, warm, even sound in all registers.

The orchestra was secure despite some blemishes in clarity and intonation in the woodwind. But a lush string sound, fine solo violin from leader Julia Watkins and the horns and lower brass particularly produced quality and range of colour.

The opening prologue, almost a tone-poem in its own right, was a chance to see conductor David Temple work with the orchestra alone, demonstrating control and clear musical intent.

On occasion later he had to work harder to produce changes of pace and dynamic but they were always forthcoming and displayed clearly his vision of the work. The fact that it was a performance without an interval added cohesion, strength to the narrative and the feeling of musical continuity

It was a great shame the Abbey was not full as we are fortunate to have music of this calibre in Hertfordshire.

STEVE JENNER

l Two more free choral workshops to enable singers to try out different pieces of music are being held by the Hertfordshire Chorus on the next two Wednesday evenings.

They are both being held at 7pm at Monks Walk School in Welwyn Garden City with next Wednesday, February 17, being devoted to Gloria by Poulenc and the following Wednesday, February 24, to Stabat Mater by Rossini.

More information about the choir and the workshops can be found at www.hertfordshirechorus.org.uk

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