Review: Wokingham Choral Society - Faure RequiemBy Philip Guard
March 15, 2013
Wokingham Choral Society: Faure Requiem
St Pauls Church, Wokingham
Saturday, March 9
An audience of 200 lucky people gathered at St Paul’s Church, Wokingham last Saturday to be treated to an evening of great music from Wokingham Choral Society.
The first half of the concert featured a setting of the canticles for morning and evening prayer, set by the two greats of British music, Herbert Howells and Charles Stanford, together with a lyrical version of the Venite by American composer Anthony Piccolo.
The choir rose to the individual challenges of each setting, with the soaring majesty of Howells’ Te Deum being particularly notable for a commanding full throttle ensemble performance.
Howells’ setting of the Magnificat, Stanford’s setting of the Nunc Dimittis in G and Anthony Piccolo’s Venite were a study in contrasting styles, with the choir producing fine displays of sustained intensity in the quiet sections and a dancing style as they made ‘a joyful noise’ in the Piccolo.
The highlight of the first half, however, was undoubtedly their spirited performance of Jonathan Dove’s Missa Brevis. A semi-chorus of singers drawn from the choir provided an excellent display of contrapuntal precision in the severely atonal Kyrie and Agnus Dei while the whole choir embraced the rhythmic challenges of the Sanctus and Gloria, raising the roof with their Hosannas and the final ‘Amen’.
Alexander Chaplin’ s sensitive interpretation drew out the fine lyricism of Faure’s setting of the Requiem. This work calls for great vocal precision and control from the choir and their sustained rendition of this work was a joy to hear.
The evening included enchanting performances from two promising young soloists, baritone Sam Pantcheff and soprano Emily Vine. The earth certainly moved for Pantcheff’s rendition of the Libera Me, while Vine’s performance of the Pie Jesu was magical.
The choir was wonderfully supported by the magnificent playing of Ben Woodward at the organ, his mastery of the instrument complimenting the singers at every stage.
This was a fine performance from this talented local amateur choir; if you missed it, there is another chance to hear them on April 6, at 7.30pm in St Clements Danes, London, where they will perform the Faure, once again with Benjamin Woodward, organ, under the baton of Alexander Chaplin.