Chelmsford Singers at the Cathedral
An impressive reading of this mighty work, in the version with piano accompaniment, which Brahms made for an early London performance.
The four hands on this occasion belonged to Tim Carey and Martin Sanders-Hewett, no strangers to our County Town.
James Davey's firm direction brought out the light and shade of the scoring, especially in the familiar fourth movement and in the sombre final section, ending on a movingly muted note.
The clarity achieved in this small-scale version was immediately obvious in the opening Selig Sind, with powerful entries from the choir. The solemn processional which follows was particularly well shaped, with the sunshine breaking through towards the end.
The soloists were baritone Michael Pearce, excellent in the sixth movement, before the dramatic contribution of the choir, and a wonderful soprano in Cecilia Osmond – her voice was strong but unforced, and her approach to the text was warm and sympathetic.
With its complex and constantly shifting dynamics, and an unusually substantial role for the chorus, this is a challenging work for any choir; the Chelmsford Singers responded magnificently, in a performance of stylish assurance.