25th November 2017



With Vivaldi’s Gloria and Pergolesi’s duet from Stabat Mater this was bound to be a concert where everyone would recognise something familiar. The wonderful thing is that the less well-known pieces which were performed turned out to be real gems too…and made for a beautifully structured performance with just the right mix of mood changes and contrasts.

Vivaldi’s Magnificat opened the programme and this was one of the lesser known pieces. I’m sometimes concerned when a large choir has to handle a piece like this that requires agility and crispness in the runs and changes of energy. It can be a bit muddy. Carleton Etherington, the conductor, had clearly done a great job of focussing the choir’s energy and, on the night, everyone matched the pace and vigour needed for such pieces as the Fecit Potentiam.

The Fall of Jericho overture by Gloucester-born 18th century composer William Hayes was new for everyone I think – and what a piece we’ve been missing. A beautifully balanced and precise performance from the Corelli Orchestra with a simply stunning oboe solo in the second movement rising like a mournful lark above the strings. Enchanting, and I’m looking forward to hearing it more in the future.

Our Pachelbel education was extended with his Magnificat in D – bold and majestic with a finesse and flow far removed from the stately, almost plodding and (for me) overplayed Canon.

Durante’s Magnificat opened the second part of the concert. This was a powerful opening with a strong soprano lead to re-engage us. The acoustics acted against the soloists in the lower registers however and their contribution was a little lost in the second movement.

However those same soloists, Hannah Grove and Zarah Hible, delighted all with the clarity and quality of their voices in the tear jerking Stabat Mater Dolorosa from Pergolesi before we were back to the wall of sound of Vivaldi’s Gloria – a wonderful way to finish the evening. Lots of choir volume with great solos beautifully paired with the oboe for the soprano and the cello for the mezzo. It was great to see the choir’s unflagging enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment of this and we ventured out into the cold warmed by their energy. A splendid way to bring the Abbey 900 series of concerts to a close.


Clive Hook

26 November 2017