Beautiful music delights the ear

Last updated 11:23 14/11/2011

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Master Sacred Works by Mozart and Haydn.
The Renaissance Singers.
Conductor Guy Donaldson.
St Peter's Church. Saturday, November 12.
Reviewed by STEPHEN FISHER..

For their final concert of the year, the Renaissance Singers put together a programme of beautiful sacred music and, although this programme featured only music by Mozart and Haydn, there can be no doubt the works presented reflect some of the most beautiful music ever written in this genre.

The concert opened with a breathtaking account of Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus, a motet written in the last year of the composer's life. The work is expressive with sheer simplicity and poignancy, both qualities beautifully captured here.

This was followed by Mozart's Solemn Vespers, five psalms and the Magnificat from the Gospel of Luke, the most well-known movement being Laudate dominium, a work which features regularly in many people's top 10 favourites. Here soprano Bryony Williams gave a moving rendition supported sensitively by the choir.

The second half of the programme featured a magnificent performance of Haydn's Mass in the Time of War, one of this composer's more popular masses and here characterised in performance by a choir obviously well-rehearsed and completely at home with the expressive demands of the work, to which they responded throughout magnificently.

Robbie Andrew's beautiful rendition of the baritone solo Qui tollis peccata mundi was indeed a pleasure to listen to, as was also the superb work by contralto Pauline Rowe and tenor Frank Carter.

Jonathan Berkahn provided a splendid accompaniment on the organ with some most pleasing work by Ben Whitton on timpani and Steve Pilkington and Christine Butts on trumpets.

Again, Guy Donaldson is to be congratulated on this programme. Obviously well chosen, the conductor carefully explored the depths of each work, revealing their individual glory while ensuring all performers presented the work with secure confidence and a tremendous feeling for style. A delight for the ear throughout.

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