Review - 25 April 2009

Source: Gloucester Echo (and also Crackerjack website - Crackerjack rating: 6 / 10)

Cleeve Chorale again joined forces with its Somerset counterpart in a concert of Mozart's church music, beginning with the Solemn Vespers K339. Comprising five psalm settings and the Magnificat the music has echoes of Bach and other earlier composers.

What should have been a stunning musical event was almost ruined by the dreadful acoustics of Cleeve School hall. My heart went out to conductor Iain Cooper as he struggled valiantly to overcome this handicap. The acoustics were kinder to the soloists who performed as a well balanced vocal quartet throughout the work.

Soprano Mary Morgan found herself in the limelight more than once and sang the Laudate Dominum (Psalm 117) with grace and poise. Mozart's Mass in C minor, which followed, calls for two exceptional soprano voices and I rejoiced to hear Mary Morgan in action again in the Christe eleision and the uplifting Et incarnatus est. In the duet Domine Deus she was partnered by Jean McElroy whose own solo, Laudamus te, radiated cheerfulness.

The combined choirs, too, had their moments with strong performances in the majestic opening to the work, the expressive misereres in the Qui tollis section of the Gloria, the fugal intricacies of the Cum spiritu sanctu and the triumphal concluding Hosannas.

The orchestra, led by Claire Piper, provided good support, with some beautiful woodwind playing in the Et incarnatus est.

This programme is to be repeated in Bridgwater on May 9 - hopefully in a more acoustically friendly auditorium!

Roger Jones