This exuberant evening of sacred music began with the Hallelujah Chorus. Crisply sung, with glorious trumpets, it was the Chelmsford Singers' contribution to the nationwide Sing Hallelujah project. But alas, no chance for the enthusiastic audience to join in a singalonga Handel …
The main work was Haydn's Harmoniemesse, a late work, full of the spirited optimism which is Haydn's hallmark. Peter Nardone drew an impressively rousing performance from the choir – the Qui Tollis and the closing Dona Nobis Pacem just two examples of really fine choral phrasing. The four soloists – all of exceptional quality - blended beautifully in the Agnus Dei and the Et Incarnatus Est.
The same forces shone just as brightly in the Bach Magnificat. Tim Travers-Brown, counter-tenor, was the soloist in a wonderfully lilting Esurientes, Ruth Gomme's limpid soprano took the first two solos, and Robert Rice's relaxed baritone seemed to fit the acoustic exactly, especially in the Quia Fecit with its lovely cello accompaniment. Oliver Waterer was at the organ, and the choir brought commendable energy to the choruses, particularly perhaps the Fecit Potentiam.
The excellent orchestra was led by Sarah Sew, and the conductor was Peter Nardone, who conducts the whole of the Messiah with the Cathedral Choir and top-flight soloists on the evening of Sunday 20 December.