Haydn: Harmoniemesse and Symphony No. 86 in D, Mozart: Litaniae Lauretanae
- Winchester College New Hall
Jane Sherriff - soprano
David Clegg - counter tenor
Benjamin Hulett - tenor
Simon Grant - bass baritone
Winchester Music Club and OrchestraLiz Russell - leader
Neil Chippington - conductor
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from the Hampshire Chronicle Music Diary by Eric and Joan Wood
It showed great spirit when, faced with the prospect of reduced seating in New Hall due to floods, Winchester Music Club decided to continue with Saturday's concert.
In charge of the 120-voice choir and the 40-strong orchestra - leader Liz Russell - was Neil Chippington their musical director since 1995. With Christopher Foster indisposed, Simon Grant, a sonorous bass-baritone, joined the line up of Jane Sherriff (soprano), David Clegg (counter tenor) and Benjamin Hulett (tenor). Perhaps things were a little crowded on stage, but, guided by the expressive hands of Mr Chippington, who prefers not to use a baton, some very creditable results were forthcoming.
The five movements of Mozart's Litaniae Lauretanae K.195 found the choir and players in extremely alert, confident form, giving unanimous attack and release. The soloists made distinguished contributions, both in well-balanced ensembles and singly, with the soprano and tenor being called upon for the most extended utterances involving some coloratura.
Haydn's Symphony No.66 in D, one of the so-called Paris Symphonies, had a full range of dynamic variety to highlight the changing moods. Following a sensitive adagio introduction and the precision of the spirited allegro, in which there were just a few moments when the tympani tended to dominate, the subdued Capriccio made a moving impact often by virtue of the silence separating the notes. A robust Minuet with restrained Trio led on to an extremely lively and captivating finale.
The same composer's Mass No.12, Harmoniemesse, so called because of the prominence given to wind instruments in the scoring, occupied the second part of the programme. His last major work, this was a demanding but very rewarding choice. After an arresting orchestral opening the four soloists, led by the richly resonating bass, alternated with the chorus. Throughout, all soloists sang as a unified ensemble.
Jane Sheriff was in radiant voice for the joyous opening to the Gloria in Excelsis, while David Clegg's rounded tone was heard to good effect in the section Gratias agimus. Again the intermingling of solo and chorus parts was highly satisfactory and a thrilling moment came with the closing double fugue, especially at the entry of brass and tympani.
The Credo began with great affirmation and covered many moods, with the soloists sharing in the credit in passages of great beauty such as Et incarnatus. The words Et vitam venturi started a vital climax which ended in another big fugue.
The contrasts between the two sections of the Sanctus were splendidly etched, while the Benedictus, once more giving opportunity for the soloists, pulsated with joyous vitality. The gently supplicating Agnus Dei concluded with a strong final appeal for peace - Dona nobis pacem from the choir, buoyantly supported by the orchestra.
This was a sincerely-felt account of a great work for which all participants are to be congratulated, particularly the inspiring conductor.