St. Dunstans Church, Mayfield
Mayfield Festival Choir conducted by Jeremy Summerly with London Primavera led by Paul Manley and soloists Eloise Irving, Abigail Broughton, William Blake and Tristan Hambleton.
- Franz Schubert (1797-1828): German Stabat mater D383 (1816)
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91): Mass in C minor K427 (1782/3)
The Great Mass in C minor was written when Mozart had recently moved to Vienna in order to find fame and fortune. It was designed to show the people of his native Salzburg what a success he was making of his freelance career in the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Even more importantly, the C-minor Mass was composed to showcase the vocal prowess of Mozart’s new wife, Constanze, whom Mozart took as his Soprano soloist to Salzburg in order to parade her in front of his father, sister, and former employer, the Archbishop of Salzburg.
In this concert, Mozart’s 27-year old powers of invention are complemented by the genius of the 20-year old Schubert. Schubert’s German Stabat mater was also written in Vienna and was dedicated to the composer’s brother, Ferdinand. Unlike the Latin words to the Stabat mater, which concentrate on Mary’s grief at her son’s suffering on the cross, the German paraphrase of the text puts the figure of Christ at the heart of the Schubert’s oratorio.
This concert may be unsuitable for anyone over the age of thirty, since the high level of creative assurance and technical proficiency displayed by the young Mozart and Schubert can fuel dangerous levels of envy.
We are well served here in Sussex and Kent with several choral societies and choirs performing a variety of repertoires, and one of the chief delights is attending Mayfield Festival Choir performances to witness the eclectic and inspired range of works they undertake.
The choir, under the leadership of their conductor, Jeremy Summerly has grown in stature and confidence since his appointment. Add to that the polished accompaniment by the London Primavera chamber orchestra, and the choir’s ability to attract excellent young soloists from the London Colleges – many of whom go on to forge national and international careers –and you have a level of musical achievement not often found in your average choral society.
Last night’s concert in St Dunstan’s church, entitled ‘Youthful Viennese Masterpieces’ demonstrated the genius of two great composers, Mozart and Schubert. Schubert’s Stabat mater and Mozart’s Mass in C minor were composed while they were relatively young men, and sadly, Schubert did not live to witness the first performance of his work. This cantata, involving three soloists, demonstrates an emotional gravity which was handled with feeling by the choir.
Mozart’s Mass in C minor filled the second half of the concert – a concert which was again exceptionally well attended by a loyal public. In this substantial and beautiful work the choir were taken to extremes of dynamic variance, culminating with the entire ensemble coming together for the final Benedictus.
All the soloists – Eloise Irving, Abigail Broughton, William Blake and Tristan Hambleton, acquitted themselves nobly, but special praise must go to Abigail Broughton, whose Laudamus Te was, for this audience member, the outstanding solo contribution of the evening.
Andrew Benians was again a reliable and effective presence at the organ and Paul Manley, as always, led his orchestra’s fine accompaniment throughout.
This was yet another thoroughly enjoyable evening – Mayfield Festival Choir always has the ability to send us home feeling uplifted.
To a packed church on Sunday 10th May, the Mayfield Festival Choir with the Primavera Orchestra performed two contrasting youthful Viennese masterpieces. The first work was the rarely performed Stabat Mater by Schubert and the second by Mozart was his Grand Mass in C Minor.
Jeremy Dale Roberts, former head of composition at the Royal College of Music commented: “The Schubert kind of blew me away; I’ve never heard it before. While the two fugal movements were maybe a wee bit stodgy – the music, not the performance! – the rest was astonishing, so fresh and adventurous in colour and harmony, going places only a young man would dare. A revelation. And the Mozart too – a stunning performance with excellent young soloists who have a great future ahead of them. I know the work well, and I don’t think I have ever heard a more rapt performance of the Et Incarnatus. AND the Qui Tollis, awesome; AND the opening Kyrie. I think everyone was fired up: Amazing evening! The choir just improves with every concert I attend and great credit goes to their Director of Music, Jeremy Summerly, who has inspired the choir to perform difficult works with fine singing and with apparent great ease.”
Mayfield Festival Choir - Youthful Viennese Masterpieces from Jane Bolger on Vimeo.
Photos courtesy of Knowle Farm Partnership
Sound track Ensemble Vocal de Lausanne and the Monteverdi Choir
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