TIME TO SMILE
The audience enjoyed a full-blown baroque treat from the Stour Singers at their concert on 11th May with Handel’s The Trumpet Shall Sound (Messiah) and Foundling Hospital Anthem, Monteverdi’s popular Beatus Vir from his late liturgical works, and a Vivaldi favourite, the Dixit Dominus. It was an inspired programme choice of three baroque composers at their best.
Under the lively baton of Music Director, Richard Emms, and with the enthusiastic support of the youthful Queen’s Park Sinfonia who contributed a spring-like freshness to the scores, this concert with fully committed choir and soloists was a joy. The choir’s accomplished accompanist Rachel Bird was busy on keyboard throughout the programme.
These works demand a lot of concentration and accurate timing from any choir, being considerably energetic pieces that also need a subtlety of expression and the Stour Singers rose to the occasion to give the audience a very strong performance.
The vivid opening piece The Trumpet Shall Sound was brightly exemplified by one of the Sinfonia’s excellent trumpeters and bass baritone Julian Debreuil. The choral works were enriched with the professional interpretation of all the soloists. Both Susanna Fairbairn, soprano, and Cathy Bell, mezzo soprano, sang with a lyrical and moving expressiveness and with voices beautifully tuned in those duo passages echoing each other or in the exciting runs in the Dixit Dominus. The same must be said for Tom Raskin’s bright tenor sound and the vocal colour of Julian Debreuil’s bass baritone, who also shared some exciting duo passages. As a quartet the soloists performed well.
The whole programme resounded with an intuitive sense of balance and shared feeling between choir, orchestra and soloists to produce one of the best concerts of so many. Though musical content was sacred, this exhilarating performance with its considerable bounce simply made you smile.
Don’t miss this choir’s only other major public performance of the year at Christmas.
Stratford Herald, 16 May 2019