2nd May 2015
CIRENCESTER CHORAL SOCIETY – PUCCINI MESSA di GLORIA & ROSSINI STABAT MATER
CIRENCESTER PARISH CHURCH – 2 May 2015
Cirencester Choral Society has a reputation for offering unsung works from undoubted masters and this concert was a fine example.
Written, or rather, compiled when only 20, Puccini’s ‘Messa di Gloria’ owes as much to Verdi as to his future operas. We were reminded that compositional style is not born complete but sits ‘on the shoulders of giants’. Occasionally jolly for a mass, it was an excellent choice which featured the full chorus in many combinations with solo voices more in support.
19th century music requires a particularly flexible touch and the large chorus repaid Carleton Etherington’s direction with close attention to changes in tempi and dynamics, particularly in the ‘Agnus Dei’.
Putting the ‘Gloria’ last to balance the length and style of the movements worked well, as much for the final, rousing fugue as for the overall shape of the piece.
A mature work, the individual movements of the Rossini ‘Stabat Mater’ show more internal coherence than the Puccini mass. At times, the choral writing could have been very mature Haydn but the operatic Rossini that attracted some censure from the devout in 1842 was evident in the solo sections. Christopher Monk offered a light bass, Andrew Dickinson a reedy and secure tenor and Jenavieve Moore, a strong soprano. Catherine Backhouse’s complete and sensitive mezzo shone amongst these with, perhaps, the least opportunity.
The excellent ‘Cotswold Camerata’ obviously relished playing music rather larger and more dynamically rewarding than the English choral tradition and that relish was clearly shared by an audience who had learnt something new about both composers and this fine chorus.