|The new Director of|
Exmouth Choral Society
The Choir was noticeably dominated by sopranos and altos, with only a small line-up of dinner-jacketed tenors and basses in the front row, including the familiar figure of David Lee. It was good to see two women in the tenor ranks, Barbara Lambert and Sallie Ranken, bringing their numbers up to a respectable six. There was perhaps a slight struggle to bring the tenor and bass parts up to the volume of the rest of the choir, but Laurence had prepared everyone well and the resulting combination was quite satisfactory.
The first half of the 'double bill' was Joseph Haydn's 'Missa Augustiis' which he composed in 1798 for his former employers, the Hungarian Esterházy family, to be performed at the Palais Esterházy in Vienna. The title, meaning 'A dismissal (mass) for troubled times', possibly referred to the extreme stress of staging his oratorio 'Creation' in the same year, but more particularly to the fact that Vienna had been overrun by the army of Napoleon Bonaparte. However, despite appearing invincible, Bonaparte's fortunes were reversed following the defeat of the French fleet by Rear Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson in the 'Battle of the Nile' (which actually took place on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt at Abū Qīr Bay - خليج أبو قير). Two years later Viscount Nelson (by then also 'Baron Nelson of the Nile') and Lady Hamilton visited the Palais, and may even have heard a performance of the Missa Augustiis. In any event, 'Missa Augustiis' has subsequently become known as the 'Nelson Mass' in his honour.
|Leader of the string orchestra Mary Eade|
|Four extraordinary soloists:|
Mezzo-Soprano Juliet Curnow, Soprano Harriet Jones,
Tenor David Webb, Baritone Julian Rippon.
But wait! That was only half of the evening's performance. After a very convivial intermission everyone returned to their places for the 'Requiem'. Everyone, that is, except Molly Lopresti-Richards, whose Tympani were no longer needed, and two of the soloists, Harriet Jones and David Webb. But making his first appearance was Oli Ritchie with his concert harp.
The Requiem was composed in 1947 by French organist Maurice Duruflé in memory of his father. Although it is scored for a four part choir, only two soloists are required, mezzo-soprano and baritone. There are three alternative settings, the string orchestra and harp being the intermediate between simple organ accompaniment and a full orchestra.
|The big moment|
Juliet Curnow sings 'Pie Jesu'
This remarkable 'bonus' performance demonstrated the quite extraordinary versatility of Exmouth Choral Society's choir - not to mention their stamina. The whole group, and especially their new director, Laurence Blyth, really showed us what they can do.
We don't have to wait long to hear the choir again. On Saturday 7 May they will perform the oratorio that caused Joseph Haydn such travail in the year he composed the 'Missa Augustiis' - 'The Creation'. When the ticket and booking details become available they will appear here and at www.exmouthchoralsociety.org.uk.
Exmouth Choral Society (Director Laurence Blyth)
Holy Trinity Church Exmouth Saturday 7 May 7.30pm
Joseph Haydn: 'The Creation'
(Ticket details to be arranged.)
If you missed last Saturday's performance of the Duruflé Requiem,or you would like to hear it again, there is news of another performance in Taunton on Sunday 20 February by the Somerset Chamber Choir.
Somerset Chamber Choir (Director Graham Caldbeck)
King's College Chapel Taunton Sunday 20 February 3pm
La Musique Sacrée
Langlais: Messe Solennelle
Messiaen: O Sacrum Convivium
Poulenc: Quatre Motets pour un Temps de Pénitence (i.e. Lent)
Organist Richard Pearce, Mezzo-Soprano Stephenie Allman,
Baritone John Broad, 'Cellist Sara Lovell
Tickets £18 & £15 reserved £11 unreserved
Box: 01823 336344 (Mon-Sat 9.30-4.30)