There is nothing more disappointing than going to hear a large choir sing something they’ve been working really hard on, only for the guest soloists to end up having all the best bits on the night.
This, though, was simply not an option with Schubert’s Mass No 6 – a charming and unusual piece, written just a few months before the composer’s untimely death. Although five highly-accomplished soloists are needed, their contribution is really rather small, whereas the less-fortunate choir has to remain standing the whole time.
All credit, then, to the university choir, who absolutely sang their hearts out to bring this less-frequently-heard work to life with such assured conviction.
Despite their far slighter involvement, the young soloists were in fine voice, and blended perfectly in ensemble. A particular mention must go to soprano Robyn Allegra Parton for her beautifully-shaped top B flats, and tenor Daniel Auchinloss, for his eminent sensitivity.
The first half got off to a suitably stirring start with Elgar’s take on God Save the Queen, complemented later by an equally-rousing rendition of Parry’s Jerusalem. Pierre-Emmanuel Largeron drew a well-shaped reading of the slow movement from Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony from the Sinfonia, who themselves really came into their own with a truly foot-tapping performance of Nicolai’s Merry Wives of Windsor Overture, under regular conductor Simon Ible, and led with equal aplomb by Mary Eade.
PHILIP R BUTTALL