Three Spires Singers
Mozart & Haydn Concert Review, 2nd July 2022
Saturday 2nd July
2022 saw the Three Spires Choir and Orchestra back in Truro Cathedral under the
trusty baton of Christopher Gray for another exhilarating concert of classical
music, an all Haydn and Mozart programme to counterbalance the recent spate of
contemporary and 20th century performances, and one guaranteed to
leave everyone with uplifted hearts.
The character of the evening was
set from the outset by Haydn’s exuberant Te Deum. The choir devoured the work
in an unbroken outburst of joyous singing: over forty lines of text delivered in
just eight minutes!
The first half concluded with
the Piano Concerto no 23 in A by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Frederick Brown joining
the orchestra to take the solo part while the choir was given a well-earned
rest. The pianist played with poise and delicacy, never allowing his lines to
become over dominant, in keeping with the temperament of the music and lighter
tone that would have come from the pianos of Mozart’s own time. The second
(slow) movement demonstrated this empathic relationship between orchestra and
soloist to full effect; a beautifully crafted piece, magically performed, yet
with the pianist at times barely outlining more than the underlining chords.
The second half of the concert
was devoted entirely to Mozart’s altogether weightier Mass in C Minor. Joining
the choir and orchestra were sopranos Kirsty Hopkins and Rhiannon Llewellyn,
tenor Mark Hounsell and bass Harry Hoyland.
The choir handled the work with
the same enthusiasm they had given the Te Deum, and apart from a few minor intonation
and coordination issues during the Qui Tollis, did themselves and the work
proud. Sopranos were both on top form, handling the composer’s novel writing
with ease. In choosing two sopranos rather than the more conventional soprano
and alto, Mozart was able to weave the two voice parts in and out of each other
and throw phrases back and forth between them. Though the two soloists had very
different vocal characteristics and entirely contrasting approaches to vibrato
and phrasing, their voices nonetheless complemented each other to powerful effect.
The tenor seemed somewhat less comfortable, his voice at times sounding
strained and croaky, and one suspects he may have been a little under the
weather. In a strange and slightly unfortunate quirk of the programming,
bassist Harry Hoyland’s only appearance of the entire evening was in the penultimate
‘Benedictus’ section of the mass. He’d had a long wait but did not disappoint
with his contribution to this intricate quartet writing. The Credo and Sanctus
that preceded this section offered a wealth of new colours – sopranos in
dialogue with delicate oboe and bassoon cadenzas, choir uplifted by stirring
brass fanfares. But the last word of the piece, and indeed of the evening, went
to the choir, with their final rousing Osanna in excelsis – ‘Hosanna in the
highest’. Amen to that.
who has yet to hear the Three Spires Singers and Orchestra should make a note in
their diaries of the next concert: Saturday November 19th, the
programme comprising three great classics of the early 20th century: Elgar’s Sea
Pictures, Sibelius’s Finlandia and Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony. This is most
definitely not a concert to be missed.
Chris Best is a Cornwall based
composer and writer. More info can be found at www.chrisbestmusic.com