There was a buzz of anticipation last night as a full gathering at St Dunstan’s Church in Mayfield sat down to listen to a concert given by Mayfield Festival Choir to celebrate a variety of anniversaries for Purcell, Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn and the contemporary composer Jonathan Dove. The choir was accompanied by the London Primavera, leader Paul Manley and conducted by Graham Caldbeck.
|Purcell: O sing unto the Lord a new song
Dove: Bless the Lord O my soul
Mendelssohn: String symphony in B minor
Handel: Let thy hand be strengthened
Haydn: Theresienmesse (Maria Theresa Mass)
The performance opened with Purcell’s ‘O sing unto the Lord a new song’ in which the bass Marcus Farnsworth, hot from winning the 2009 Wigmore Hall International song prize, excelled in the dramatic solos – a name to look out for.
‘Bless the Lord O my soul’ by Jonathan Dove was delivered with dramatic intensity and produced amazing volumes of rich sound and colour effects, highlighting resident organist Andrew Benians magnificently executed organ solos.
The London Primavera did full justice to Mendelssohn’s String Symphony No 10 in B minor and demonstrated ensemble playing of a high calibre.
Mendelssohn’s ‘Hear my prayer’ brought together the soprano soloist and choir in a moving rendition of the famous song ‘O for the Wings of a Dove’ and the first half of the evening ended with ‘Let thy hand be strengthened’, the first of Handel’s 4 Coronation Anthems.
After the interval we heard the major work of the evening – Haydn’s Maria Theresa Mass written for solo, vocal quartet, chorus and orchestra. This work calls on orchestra and choir to demonstrate a full range of orchestral dexterity and vocal energy. All sections of the choir responded to Graham’s inspired direction and the tenor section, arlthough small in number, were nevertheless able to show a strong, clear tenor line. Mayfield were fortunate to have a team of four distinguished young soloists who excelled themselves in fluency of vocal efforts.
This was a splendid evening of music, with a revitalised choir – a standard of performance that bodes well for forthcoming performances and the 2010 Mayfield Festival.