Herts Chorus make the most of things at St Albans Abbey

PUBLISHED: 16:10 29 October 2010

St Albans Abbey

St Albans Abbey

Archant

ALTHOUGH Beethoven’s ninth symphony is, by any standard, a tremendous piece of music, it is not something you would really expect a choir to choose as the main work for a major concert.

The simple fact is that there is surprisingly little for the chorus to do in the work – although what there is, is impressive and exciting.

With that in mind it was good programming on the part of the Herts Chorus to open its concert at St Albans Abbey on Saturday with a performance of Poulenc’s Gloria.

The Gloria, dating from 1959, bears no resemblance – except in its words – to many of the better-known works by composers of earlier centuries. The music is often spiky, full of fun and exciting throughout.

And the chorus, under its conductor David Temple, filled the Abbey with some tremendous sounds as did the soloist, soprano Lynda Russell whose performance was an absolute delight.

For the evening the chorus was joined by the London Orchestra da Camera which, for my taste, was a little loud and, on occasions, tended to dominate.

But its performance of Beethoven’s ninth symphony was not really up to the standard I would have expected from a professional orchestra. Overall the performance was just about satisfactory, although there were moments when David Temple did not appear to have full control of the orchestra.

In addition there were some very noticeable errors by individual members and the performance of timpani solo in the second movement was, to say the least, over enthusiastic.

But the choir’s performance of the choral section was exemplary and well worth waiting for.

They sang well and with great precision and clarity in their all too brief moments of glory.

Equally there were fine performances from the soloists, soprano Lynda Russell, bass Ashley Riches, tenor Joshua Ellicott and mezzo Lynette Alcántara who stepped in at the last minute to replace Julia Batchelor-Walsh who was unwell.

The Herts Chorus and the four soloists really made the evening. A better performance from the orchestra would have put the icing on this particular cake.

JOHN MANNING


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