Registered Charity Number 1171218

Hon. Patron:

Sir Richard Stilgoe

Musical Director:

Roland Smith

"AT LAST"

Mozart Requiem, March 2001

with

Åsa Danielsson - soprano

Susan Atherton - mezzo

Charne Rochford - tenor

Christopher Adams - bass

 

On Saturday 17th March 2001 at the Parish Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Torrington, Devon, the Winkleigh Singers, conducted by their choral director, Roland Smith, gave a concert which I am sure will stand out in the memories of all those who packed the church.

The singing of the seventeen members of the choir was supported and enhanced by four young soloists from the Royal Academy of Music. The resulting performance was one of the best I've attended in my many years as an N.F.M.S. visitor.

The first half of the concert started with J.S. Bach's, O Jesu Christ meins lebens licht, which was followed by the organist playing J.S. Bach's Fantasia and Fugue in B minor (sic)* and ended with W.A. Mozart's Ave Verum, followed by a short interval.

The quality of the performance of these opening items set the standard for the Requiem which followed.

Duncan Druce's completion of the Requiem uses all the original Mozart material with occasional re-working of this and part of Süssmayer's welcome contribution.

Throughout the choir's singing the performance was of high quality and the four young soloists excelled themselves in their solo work, the soprano's floating melodic line was beautiful. The mezzo gave strength and sweetness underpinning the soprano in their duets, the tenor and bass sang with the clearest of diction, roundness of tone and with impressive range.

The emotions of each section were noticeably emphasised. The ensemble singing of the quartet was a joy to hear. The urgency of the Kyrie became vital in spite of the paucity of words and the Lacrymosa - oh, so sad! It was a spiritual as well as a musical experience.

Over the years it has distressed me that choral societies often suffer in their final performances in being served by second class soloists - after all the hard work and dedication to practice during the winter evenings this seems to me unfair. Perhaps it is a matter of overstrained finances but this shows little economic sense when the musical reputation of the choir is all important to its position in a world which is becoming musically starker and must attract all the help both financial and musical it can muster.

The performance of Mozart's Requiem in Torrington proved that it is possible to attract talented young singers to come to this somewhat distant part of England and set an example of a high standard of performance from both choir and soloists.

Hence - AT LAST!"

 

Jean Lethbridge

Making Music: Music South West, Autumn 2001

Reproduced with permission

 

* The organist, in fact, performed J.S. Bach's Fantasia and Fugue in C minor!

 

The Winkleigh Singers