Reviews of past performances
Finchley Choral Society concert in St Pancras church Euston - review
Posted by David Winskill on March 20th 2016 in OpinioN8 information and views.
Haydn’s Salve Regina opened proceedings – a prayer of intercession to the Virgin Mary and straight away it was obvious why Finchley Choral Society had returned to St Pancras for their spring Concert. The acoustic is wonderful - not a carpet or padded pew to soak up the vibrato that soloists and choir need to bring the programme of eighteenth century sacred works to life.
It also has a fine auxiliary organ that was played wonderfully by Richard Harvey. The opening phrases of this charming work are echoed
by the piping organ placed to the side of the small Florian Chamber Orchestra and under the balcony that stretches round three sides
of the church.
Soprano Emma Tring was fantastic: clearly she has a powerful voice but was able to temper it to suit the imploring sentiment of the Salve. Between the two parts of the piece, conductor Grace Rossiter paused to allow a couple of emergency service vehicles on the Euston Road to Doppler shift themselves past the church.
Mozart’s Laudate Dominum (1780) was next and is one of the shortest pieces of sacred music, based on the shortest of Psalms – No 117. Emma delivered the opening by herself with the chorus joining in at the Gloria patri, perfectly complementing her soaring voice.
A pearl of a piece.
Vivaldi’s Magnificat took us to the interval with Rossiter really working the chorus hard: pleading for and eliciting an intensely emotional and beautiful performance. The dream like mood crated in the Et Misericordia was shattered by the subsequent short almost brutal passages but allowed the choir to fill the church with a great sound.
Not required for the sixth verse, they joined the entranced audience listening to Emma and mezzo Margaret Cameron deliver the wonderful Esurientes. Some in the audience perhaps wondered if the full translation ( He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away) might possible be known to Iain Duncan-Smith.
Back to Haydn for the Missa Sancti Nicolai. The And was Crucified in the Credo confirmed what a quality line up of soloists had been recruited for this concert.
All too quickly it was over and we were back out into a cold Euston night by 9.30. But the two hours were filled with beautiful music, brilliantly performed.
Finchley Choral Society concert in St Michael's Highgate - review
Posted by David Winskill on November 23, 2015 at 13:56 in OpinioN8 information and views.
Crikey it was cold walking up Highgate Hill on Saturday evening; winter has arrived and the north wind did blow.But it was worth it. Finchley Choral Society were performing in the lovely, unspoiled, St Michael’s Church and they had put together a cracking programme of sacred works by some lesser known composers, mainly from eastern Europe.
The first part of the evening was given over to Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly and his fabulous Missa Brevis with Richard Harvey on keyboards. A booming, sombre bass from the organ opens the piece and the chorus reminds us of their crystal diction and fantastic, responsive rapport with conductor Grace Rossiter. In several parts of the work the choir produced a wall of sacred sound.
St Michael’s hasn’t followed the trend of ripping out its old pews and replacing them with upholstered chairs and suffocating the flagstones with carpets. Happily, the acoustic remains fantastic. The choir has seventy voices and the sopranos and altos were able to create the beautiful resonances of a convent choir, but, with only fourteen male voices, there was little that the engine room could do to get the profundo noises that the work would have benefited from.
After the interval we were treated to some almost ethereal short pieces that were delicate, pious and simply heavenly. Grace had chosen the programme well and the themes of spiritual abandon and total devotion were brilliantly interpreted by her choir.
The next concert is in March at St Pancras Church – well worth a 91 bus ride!