Review of Chants & Psalms – Saturday 11 November 2017
“In a county that boasts an abundance of fine choirs, the Lea Singers of Harpenden must be counted amongst the crème de la crème. With an intelligently devised and engaging programme that explored the enduring resonance of the Old Testament Psalms as well as what might be termed New Testament of Gregorian chant, this choir gave enthralling and dynamic accounts of cherished if somewhat less well-known corners of the repertoire.
The strengths of the choir were apparent from the start; clean diction and excellent intonation combined with a sensitive infusion of sound brought an admirable freshness to Jauchzet dem Herren alle Welt by Schütz. This was followed by the fluid and captivating harmonies of Duruflé’s Requiem in which clarity of tone and, again, good intonation are essential and were amply catered for here. Highlights included an uplifting momentum in the Sanctus (Hosannah), a beautifully delicate Lux æterna and a suitably darkly-toned Libera me. There was also a captivating performance by mezzo-soprano Rebekah Jones who brought a rich, resonant yet undemonstrative dignity to the Pie Jesu that was beautifully complemented by cellist Daniel Marks.
After the interval, the challenge of singing in Hebrew was confidently met in Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. With just the addition of percussion, under the expert hands of Adrian Bending, harp, played beautifully by Alex Rider and the organ played by George Inscoe, the music took on an orchestral timbre which the choir met with a renewed sense of drama. Treble Samson Cormack-Repath also delighted with a clear voice and a winning directness combined with thoughtful phrasing.
The final work was Roxanna Panufnik’s Love Endureth and conductor Victoria Longdon proved that she is every bit as committed to new music as to old – urging the choir to reveal the many beauties of this memorable music which, although immediately engaging is, nevertheless, a technically more challenging work. Sparkling solos from young singers Jenny Frost and Phoebe Wakefield also brought the encouraging reminder that this choir covers a wide range of experience and ensures that it is mindful of the need to nurture the continuation of the choral tradition.
Under the inspiring guidance of Victoria Longdon, the Lea Singers deserve a devoted following from all those who are passionate about choral music.”
James Francis Brown
From Peter Twitchin, recently retired head of the Herts Music Service on our performance of Haydn’s Creation – June 2017
“Congratulations on a great concert – it really came off very well indeed and I was so pleased for you that it was such an outstanding success!
Great soloists – especially Ruairi Bowen, the tenor – lovely voice, great presence and great performer. Did he get half the fee as he had only one arm to perform with?!
Very good orchestra – wonderful clarinet and cello who were the stars for me, and they really performed well as an orchestra. I thought your choir, however, were the real stars of night!
Marvellous sopranos – beautifully in tune with a true sound with some lovely light but powerful singing from the rest of choir who blended so well! Good articulation when it was called for and some lovely full, but never forced, forte singing from all departments.
Hearty congratulations, Tori, on a wonderful concert.”
For more concert reviews, see Previous Seasons.