University of Plymouth Choral Society concerts always tend to have something special about them, and none more than the Christmas event. However, this year’s event just seemed to have some extra charisma.
The choir was on top form, and all the music chosen very much played to their strengths, whether in the unaccompanied carols, or in the evening’s two main works, Haydn’s charming Te Deum, and Mozart’s ebullient Coronation Mass.
The Sinfonia, led with her usual assurance by Mary Eade, was effective throughout, accompanying both the singing, and flautist Judith Hall’s laid-back yet eminently expressive rendition of Gluck’s Dance of the Blessed Spirits with great sensitivity, while giving a sterling performance of Mozart’s very first Symphony, here conducted by university research-student Pierre-Emmanuel Largeron, bringing an added Gallic charm to the reading.
Soloists Robyn Allegra Parton (soprano), Marie Elliott (mezzo-soprano), Daniel Auchinloss (tenor), and Alexander Robin Baker (baritone) combined to perfection in the Mozart Mass, and where the finely-sculpted soprano solo in the closing Agnus Dei proved particularly poignant.
The congregational carols were unexpectedly stirring, too, spurred on by Sean Sweeney’s superbly positive support at the organ, and some interesting introductory fanfares from brass and drums. But, in the final analysis, it’s always going to be down to the sheer drive, enthusiasm and encouragement from the front – and in conductor Simon Ible they could scarcely have anyone finer.
PHILIP R BUTTALL