This excellent choir presented a contrasting programme on Saturday evening.
The first half consisted of two American choral works set to words by distinguished poets. Fern Hill is based on a poem by Dylan Thomas, in which he expresses in his unusual way what his life as a child in Wales was like after reaching adulthood.
The various moods were beautifully conveyed by both choir and orchestra. The music goes through many facets from pleasant melodies to discordant harmonies. There was a telling solo from soprano Rebecca Outram towards the end and the piece quietly fades into the distance as the thought of dying enters his mind. The choir, with its usual high standard of clarity, dealt with the challenging score very successfully.
Morten Lauridsen's Mid-Winter Songs is based on five poems by Robert Graves. The composer commented "I was much taken with the elegance, richness and extraordinary beauty of the poetry". Like Snows had some clever harmonies while She Tells Her Love was full of tuneful melodies. The music for Mid-Winter Waking was very descriptive. Once again these moods were expertly displayed by the choir.
After the interval Mozart's Mass In C Minor was the main work. This piece was left unfinished by the composer but there was enough there for just under an hour's music that is sometimes sombre, sometimes florid and sometimes jubilant.
There was a steady and powerful opening from the chorus in the Kyrie.
A strong solo team blended perfectly and the quartet in the Benedictus was carefully shaped. There were very convincing performances from the two sopranos Mhairi Lawson and Rebecca Outram, who both had clear controlled voices.
The choir were impressive throughout and the new Exultate Chamber Orchestra, with their confident backing, added to the enjoyment of this rarely heard masterpiece.
As usual, David Ogden had complete control of his performers and should be pleased with the whole performance.
John Packwood, Bristol Evening Post, 10th May 2010
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