Sunday, November 15, 2015


The Stondon Singers at Blackmore

Two great works from the choral repertoire, poles apart in many ways, but sharing a romantic solo at their heart.
First, Bernstein's Chichester Psalms. The accompaniment, from the organ of Michael Frith and the harp of Gwenllian Llyr, was vibrant and muscular, and seemed to inspire the choir to up their game, too, producing a refreshingly assertive, open sound. Alto soloist Oliver El-Holiby, singing without a score, gave a wonderful account of the psalm, powerful but tender, with subtle dynamics, the choir softly shading in behind.
Oliver also gave us an aria from Gluck's Orfeo, and Hurford's beautiful setting of Herrick's Litany.
The Singers, directed by Christopher Tinker, ended the first half with early Whitacre: Waternight, an uplifting, intricately woven sequence of dissonances and tone clusters, well sustained by the choir.
The final work, Fauré's movingly simple Requiem, first given in the Madeleine in Paris with rather larger, and all-male, forces, was here underpinned by organ, with the harp for the Sanctus and the choir of angels. Hosannas, and Dies Irae, made a particular impact. Mark Ellis sang the baritone part from the ranks; the treble for the Pie Jesu was a confident and pure-toned Elliott Harding-Smith.

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