3rd December 2016



Cirencester Choral Society’s concert on 3 December filled their parish church with a generous programme of two works, either of which might have been the mainstay of a programme. In the first half, Haydn’s final great mass setting, the Harmoniemesse (‘Wind Band Mass’), featured the Bristol Ensemble whose playing throughout the concert seemed a catalyst for the singers, whether sparkling woodwind in the Haydn, or dark-hued clarinets and trombones of the Mozart Requiem that formed the second half. The four soloists were from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama: tenor Mark Bonney shone in lyrical solo passages, while bass Bertie Watson added more drama. Soprano Lucinda Scott had a secure technique but seemed score-bound. The star singer was mezzo Elizabeth Lynch: in the ensembles she blended effortlessly with the others, but her performance throughout gave great pleasure, not least in her communication with conductor and audience – a demonstration of how to do it.

Carleton Etherington’s interpretations always had a clear sense of direction and momentum, within moderate tempi dictated by the acoustic. In the Haydn, the music seemed largely left to speak for itself (but what magnificent music it is!). Choir and soloists were particularly impressive in the final chorus of the Gloria. Then, in the second half, the performances seemed to enter a different league. The Mozart Requiem received a big-boned performance that emphasized the dark grandeur of the work. There was also drive and vigour – drama indeed! The choral singing at the end of the Kyries and the following Dies Irae was particularly thrilling, but the whole performance was convincing and the audience left profoundly satisfied.


Julian Elloway
5 December 2016