2nd May 2009

From the Wilts & Glos Standard, 14th May 2009
Saint Paul – Mendelssohn
2nd May 2009

Review by Richard Lester



To celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Cirencester Choral Society, conducted by Carleton Etherington and accompanied by Corinium Camerata chose the oratorio St Paul to mark its tribute to the composer.

The text, based largely on the Acts of the Apostles, recounts the stoning of Stephen (the first Christian Martyr), the miracle of Saul’s conversion to Christianity and closes with Ananias commissioning Paul as a church minister. Part two finds Paul and Barnabas becoming ambassadors of the church.

Mendelssohn’s effortless outpouring of melody and masterful handling of musical forces gave this choir the inspiration to give a really outstanding performance, most memorably in their exquisite dynamic control and even tone in the chorus, “How lovely are the messengers.”

The soloists drawn from the Guildhall School of Music were Eva Ganizate, Andrew Finden, and standing in at short notice, Andrew Dickinson. Andrew Finden gave a stunning account of the baritone aria “Consume them all” and Andrew Dickinson’s lyrical tenor voice was beautifully controlled through the range in all that he sang. Eva Ganziate should perhaps cultivate a more mellow vibrato, but she nevertheless gave a convincing performance especially in the soprano aria “Jerusalem, Jerusalem.”

The acoustics at Bingham Hall although good, are not all that kind to diction and a return to the Parish Church when refurbishment is complete will be a welcome move.

The capacity audience responded warmly to a thoroughly professional and moving account of this great work resulting in a really great evening.