Thursday, March 25, 2010

Waltham Singers with the Salomon Orchestra 
in Chelmsford Cathedral


The Waltham Singers filled the Cathedral last Saturday, with a winning combination of Beethoven and Brahms.
Ein Deutsches Requiem, profoundly moving and powerfully performed here, in the original German version, began with a beautifully sustained “Selig” chord from the choir, an effect echoed an hour later in the “Sterben” of the final movement. Bold phrasing, and a quiet clarity, were hallmarks of Andrew Fardell's interpretation. I was impressed by the ending of the third part, the urgent tread of the fourth, and the energy of the sixth.
The soloists were the baritone David Stout, especially effective in suggesting our apprehension of death, and soprano Stefanie Kemball-Reid. I thought her voice had a little too much edge for this acoustic, but she did soar thrillingly in the fifth part.
The crucial orchestral accompaniment was provided by the Salomon Orchestra. The introduction to the second part, and the brass and percussion in the sixth, just two examples of many where the sensitive playing enhanced the work of the choir. 
As London's leading non-professional orchestra, they could no doubt play Beethoven's Fifth in their sleep, but this prestigious curtain-raiser was notable for its warm string tone, and the way in which the acoustic allowed the woodwind to stand out against the orchestra. A well-earned moment of triumph at the end, when both bows and baton were raised aloft.
Something of a three choirs festival in the Cathedral: the Chelmsford Singers with Handel and Vivaldi last week, and Writtle Singers with Bernstein and Panufnik next. 

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