Sunday, March 19, 2017


Waltham Singers at King Edward VI School Chelmsford

Fauré's wondrous Requiem was the climax of this concert of music for the Lenten Period. Despite the secular surroundings, this was one of the most enthralling performances I've heard of this familiar work, with superb solos from baritone Adam Maxey and treble Angus Benton, and beautiful choral singing – the O Domine in the Offertory, the sensitively shaped Requiem Aeternam in the Agnus Dei and the diminuendo at the end of In Paradisum. In a performance close to what the composer himself might have known, the Singers were accompanied by Ensemble OrQuesta – two horns, harp and strings, with an eloquent solo violin for the Sanctus.
Laurence Lyndon-Jones at the organ accompanied the works in the first part, which included Allegri's Miserere, in a new version by Harry Christophers which aims to trace the evolution of the work from its simple origins to the form we know today. Some spectacular ornamentation from Choir II, in the furthest reaches of the balcony. Two Essex composers were featured: William Byrd with a setting of the Ash Wednesday motet Emendemus in Melius, and Alan Bullard with a new piece, the Penitential Psalms, based around the Ubi Caritas for Maundy Thursday. Impressively sung under the exacting direction of Andrew Fardell: dramatic lower voices for De Profundis, a telling repetition for “in generationem” and a sensitively sustained Amen at the close.

This work was commissioned by the Waltham Singers, using a bequest from my predecessor on the Chelmsford Weekly News, Peter Andrews. It will be heard again later this month in Belgium, as part of the choir's tour of Bruges and beyond.

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