Purcell: King Arthur
- Winchester College New Hall
Katherine Bond – soprano
Emma Noakes – soprano
Victoria Palethorpe – soprano
Stewart Conley-Harper – counter tenor
Kevin Kyle – tenor
Andrew Ashwin – bass
Winchester Music Club and Orchestra
Brian Howells – leader
Nicholas Wilks – conductor
from the Hampshire Chronicle Music Diary by Eric and Joan Wood, April 9th 2004
Purcell’s King Arthur was an excellent choice for Winchester Music Club’s New Hall Concert on Sunday evening, March 28th, not least because of Arthur’s Winchester connections. Performances are rare and the forces involved were heard to advantage in this relatively intimate venue with a good acoustic. Because of the belief that only certain categories of people could express themselves in song, several of the main characters do not appear in a concert version, but the lucid programme notes of the conductor, Nicholas Wilks, successfully filled in the gaps.
Moral virtues are extolled, rustic life is idolised and a strong patriotic mood is in evidence at the conclusion. Soloists Katherine Bond, Emma Noakes, Victoria Palethorpe (sopranos), Stewart Conley-Harper (counter-tenor), Kevin Kyle (tenor), Andrew Ashwin (bass), all of whom brought much pleasure alone or in ensemble, received sympathetic support from the instrumentalists, led by Brian Howell, comprising strings, woodwind, trumpet and imaginative harpsichord continuo. Appreciation of mood was a marked feature, with much sprightly singing and playing forthcoming when required and taut rhythms inspired by Nicholas Wilks. The trumpet added stirring martial overtones at appropriate points and there were notable contributions from woodwind. Katherine Bond had a leading part and as well as secure vocal technique, she displayed intense commitment. The episode with the frozen genius, chorus of cold people etc, was most amusing and extremely well done and the power of love ultimately triumphed. The celebrated Fairest Isle for soprano, and the lover’s duet with the bass led on to a convincing patriotic finale from the chorus. Throughout the performance short solo passages and choral interludes are often closely interlinked, and the alacrity shown by the choir in taking up their entries was a strong factor in keeping the music flowing.