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