Dartington Community Choir with Vanessa Redgrave (inset)

Poignant, warm, impassioned: Dartington Community Choir with narrator Vanessa Redgrave at the Great Hall, Dartington

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Dartington Community Choir is one of those large-scale vocal ensembles that always seems to have the knack of appropriate programming for any time of the year.

On the face of it, Brahms’s German Requiem, written shortly after the death of his mother, and Voices of Remembrance by film and television composer Laura Rossi, inspired by the fatalities of WW1, might seem heavy going on a lovely mid-spring evening. But there was such an air of positivity and optimism in the performance that the weather and, of course, surroundings, were actually felt to heighten this.

Laura’s work essentially intersperses First-World-War poetry with appropriately reflective musical interludes for choir and orchestra, or orchestra alone. While the choir played its part here, together with some excellent support from Dartington Sinfonietta, led with customary assurance by Mary Eade, it was the narrations by one of the UK’s most celebrated actresses, Vanessa Redgrave, which ultimately stole the show with their unassuming, yet poignantly warm sincerity.

Brahms’s German Requiem saw the choir on more familiar territory, where they gave of their very best in an impassioned performance sung in German that really hit the sweet spot.

With the fine, well-rounded tone of bass-baritone Darren Jeffery, and sumptuous sound and high-floating agility of soprano Catherine Hamilton, it just needed the indispensable musical input and encouragement from conductor Simon Capet to produce yet another winning Dartington combination.

PHILIP R BUTTALL





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