29th November 2008

Haydn’s Maria Theresa Mass
Rutter’s Magnificat
29th November 2008

Review by Tim Morris



Cirencester Choral Society’s concert last Saturday evening in the Bingham Hall featured two joyful works, Haydn’s Maria Theresa Mass and Rutter’s Magnificat. Clearly in good heart, the choir fielded an impressive number of singers (about 85) with sopranos and altos stretching from the front all the way up the well organised tiers to the back row flanking the less numerous tenors and basses with the tenors in the middle at the front. This was a clever use of resources and it was notable that the usual pitfalls for amateur choirs of singing below the note and behind the beat were seldom encountered.

Full credit must go to the choir’s conductor, Carleton Etherington who gave clear, no-nonsense direction throughout and who demanded and inspired confidence in his singers.

The choir were joined for the Haydn by a solo quartet of talented young singers, Alison Shone (soprano), Sioned Gwen Davies (mezzo soprano), Carlos Nogueira (tenor) and Matthew Sprange (bass). Alison Shone was the only soloist in the Rutter. She complemented the choir beautifully, her light higher register producing a fine balance in the ensemble passages but her tone was occasionally marred by sharpness.

The choir’s dynamic rehearsal accompanist, Jenny Rees, was fixer for the orchestra. The ‘Corinium Camerata’ was based around a most competent group of strings led by the violinist, Andrew Court, with the addition of clarinet and percussion for the Haydn which was full of demanding symphonic playing. For the Rutter they were joined by additional woodwind, brass, harp and percussion. This made for many wonderful colourful sounds with especially lovely playing from the oboe – but not so welcome a sound from the electronic keyboard! Had the concert been in the Parish Church, no doubt the main organ could have been used instead of course. But actually the Bingham Hall which this year celebrates the centenary of its opening is an excellent venue and the Choral Society which has performed in it since April 1909 looks and feels at home there.