Dartington Community Choir

Haydn’s The Seasons treated with élan by Dartington Community Choir and the newly-formed Dartington Sinfonietta

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If you asked any choir aficionado to name a large-scale oratorio by Haydn, it would be a safe bet to expect The Creation by way of a reply.

But this is to do a serious disservice to Haydn, for while The Creation is known around the world, its successor, The Seasons, has never enjoyed anywhere near the same popular success.

It requires a relatively large orchestra and, while the venue and acoustic of the Great Hall are superb, with a large choir, orchestra and soloists, there’s not much room for the audience, which seriously affects ticket revenue.

Conductor Simon Capet wisely decided on a specially trimmed-down orchestration, which immediately meant that not once did the orchestra overpower the singers, although every instrumentalist now had to be on absolute tip-top form.

Enter the newly-formed Dartington Sinfonietta. Led with consummate assurance by Mary Eade, the players rose to the challenge with great élan, with each section giving its absolute all.

With three outstanding soloists – Abigail Broughton (soprano), James Way (tenor), and Julian Chou-Lambert (baritone) – and such an enthusiastic choir on top song throughout, this was one of those evenings you never wanted to end.

While it’s a team effort, the evening’s undoubted success owes much to Simon, whose most-engaging demeanour, musical experience and expertise will ensure that Dartington Community Choir, and now the new Sinfonietta, just keep going from strength to strength.

PHILIP R BUTTALL