Monday, 25 May 2015

Andrew Daldorph & The East Devon Choral Society Vivaldi "Dixit Dominus" & Haydn "Nelson Mass" Tiverton Baptist Church Saturday 9 May 2015

Andrew Daldorph

Soprano Chorus
Lisa Hellier
Tiverton Baptist Church is a perfect venue for choral concerts. The body of the church is dominated by the impressive and ornate church organ. Immediately in front of the organ, and to either side, are galleries. These are just the right size to hold the full East Devon Choral Society Choir. The choir stand ten to twenty feet above floor level for a truly commanding performance.

The organ has been here since the nineteenth century. It was built at Henry Willis & Sons Rotunda Organ Works in Campden, and installed by Babbacombe man James Philpott. It has since been restored by George Osmond & Co, based in Taunton.

Conductor & Organist
Andrew Daldorph
& Colin Pettet
On Saturday 9 May, the organ was played by Devon pianist and organist Colin Pettet. Colin has recently moved to Devon. For twenty five years he was orchestra leader in the West End production of Claude-Michel Schönberg & Herbert Kretzmer's musical setting of Victor Hugo's novel "Les Miserables". It is quite a privilege to have such a distinguished musician playing for us here in Devon.

The choir is conducted by another very accomplished organist, and all round musician, Andrew Daldorph. Andrew was formerly an organ scholar at Guildford. Since coming to Devon he has directed two choirs, East Devon Choral Society and Exeter Chamber Choir. Andrew has composed choral music for both choirs. In some instances both choirs perform together. In 2009 they sang Andrew's "Songs of Hope and Creation" in Exeter Cathedral. In May 2011 they joined forces again for a very impressive performance of Edward Elgar's "Dream of Gerontius" at St Paul's Church in Tiverton

Antonio Vivaldi: "Dixit Dominus"

Orchestra Leader
Fiona McLean-Buechel
For Vivaldi's "Dixit Dominus" and Haydn's "Nelson Mass", the East Devon Choral Society were joined by a twenty five piece orchestra, led by Fiona McLean-Buechel. Fiona had seven other violinists with her. Catherine Hayek is regularly heard at choral events, such as the Counterpoint Choir's "Evening of Handel" with James Bowman and Laurence Blyth's performance of Handel's "Samson" with the Exmouth Choral Society. Julie Hill has played violin for many years with Devon Baroque under Margaret Faultless, and subsequently Jonathan Watts. She also joined Margaret Faultless' new ensemble "Gli Amici". They were joined by Phil Belsham, Richard Barlow, Sandra Sutton, Pippa Cotterill and Lyndsay Miller.

Hilary Boxer
The violas were led by Andrew Gillett, who is a regular player with Vicky Evans' 'Divertimento Entertainments'. Also playing viola was Cathryn McCracken, a member of Fiona McLean-Buechel's "Four Seasons" string quartet, plus Tina Bennett and Roger Hendy - Musical Director of the Isca Orchestra in Sidmouth.

In the 'cello section Hilary Boxer led Holly Molyneux, Peter Tamblyn and James Mitchell. (Hilary is one third of the Beare Trio, with clarinettist Chris Gradwell - and pianist Andrew Daldorph!) Rounding out the string sound was the double bass playing of Michael Allnatt.

Piccolo Trumpet Fanfare
Claude Lamon & Brian Moore
In the woodwind, flute was played by Tina Guthrie. Tina directs her own choir, 'The Torbay Singers', who recently performed Bach's "B Minor Mass" at Holy Cross in Crediton, and also plays with the 'Champagne Flutes' quartet. Andrew Maries and Catriona Jackson played seductive oboes, while Andrew Garton's stentorian bassoon made up the woodwind complement.

In the side aisles were four instrumentalists who were essential to the proceedings. For the Vivaldi's "Dixit Dominus", baroque fanfares were provided by Brian Moore and Claude Lamon. Their piccolo trumpets recreated the sound of the early baroque trumpets called for by Vivaldi.

Soprano Chorus
Sally George Daldorph
Brian Moore is lead trumpet with the EMG Symphony  Orchestra. Claude Lamon made a splash last year, when he joined Fiona McLean-Buechel's 'South West Camerata' on St Cecilia's Day (22 November), to provide the baroque trumpet for Handel's "Messiah" with Michael Graham's Exeter University Chapel Choir. (For Haydn's "Nelson Mass" Brian and Claude were joined by a third trumpeter, John Hammonds, and tympanist Sam Felton.)

Just as soon as the concert was opened with furious intensity by the orchestra, they were joined by the massed magnificence of the choir. Eighty two members of the East Devon Choral Society sang on the night. Andrew Daldorph had split the voices into two choirs, each of which was still vast. From ground level he directed his angelic host in the galleries. Audience members had the enviable choice between seats on the ground floor from which, like the conductor, they received the the glorious sound from above, or climbing to the west gallery to receive the singers' sound full-frontal.

From the Gallery
East Devon Choral Society
Even without the voice of Vice-Chairman, Sue North, there were thirty four sopranos. The outstanding voices of Andrew's wife, Sally Daldorph, and Lisa Hellier were front and centre of each choir, where Andrew and Sally's son George could also be seen - making an unscheduled appearance and singing lustily.

The altos and basses were more modest in numbers, but skilfully balanced under Andrew's direction. EDCS Chairman Martyn Green stood proud by the organ in the first bass choir.

Hardest pressed were the tenors. Just eleven men and women made up the two tenor choirs. Adding to their numbers were Andrew's father Martyn Daldorph, and a new and very enthusiastic signing, Fiona's husband Peter McLean-Buechel. How well they held their own in the sensational symphony of sound the choir was creating.

Soprano Soloist
Rebecca Yates
The whirlwind of sound from the orchestra led directly into the opening words of  Psalm 110, "Dixit Dominus Domino Meo" (The Lord said to my Lord). What an opportunity for the choir to show their mettle. Every voice immediately unleashed at full power, with the addition of trumpets almost lost in the delightful deluge.

"Donec ponam inimicos tuos scabellum pedum tuorum" (I'll make your enemies your footstool) gave each choir section a chance to shine, starting with the gentle beauty of the basses.

Alto Soloist
Rachel Bennett
To complete the effect, the singing of the choir was augmented and interspersed by the highly polished solo singing of four professional soloists.

First to appear were the soprano and alto, Andrew's sister Rebecca Yates and Exeter Cathedral's first female Deputy Lay Vicar, Rachel Bennett. First Rebecca opened a blissful duet, "Virgam virtutis tuae" (The staff of your strength). Then Rachel sang the exhilarating "Tecum Principium" (Sovereignty will be yours).

Tenor & Bass Duet
Nicholas Yates
& Tim Mirfin
After another choral interlude it was the turn of the tenor and bass to sing "Dominus a dextris tuis" (The Lord at your right hand). Rebecca's husband Nicholas Yates is a barrister in London, and also a highly trained tenor. He was joined by full-time opera bass Tim Mirfin. After opening their account in fine style, they gave up the floor to Brian Moore and Claude Lamon (who had surreptitiously sneaked to the opposite side of the auditorium) to exchange fanfares across the hall.

After the "Judicabit" (He will judge), Rebecca Yates took her opportunity to sing a delightful soprano solo, "De torrente in via bibet" (We shall drink from the spring on the road). Often reserved for countertenor, this aria was particularly delightful in soprano form.

All that remained was the 'doxology', "Gloria Patri et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto, Sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper, et in saecula saeculorum" (Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end). Andrew made sure the choir extracted every ounce of expression from the familiar words, before the final resounding "Amen".

After a ringing round of applause for everyone concerned, it was time for a cuppa and a chat. What a convivial evening this was turning out to be.

Andrew Daldorph
Rebecca YatesRachel Bennett
Nicholas YatesTim Mirfin

Josef Haydn: "Nelson Mass"

Orchestra Leader
Fiona McLean Buechel
From Vivaldi's baroque beauty, Andrew Daldorph and the East Devon Choral Society moved on to the classical genius of Josef Haydn.

His "Nelson Mass" was Haydn's first mass composed for choir with full orchestra and organ. previously the accompaniment had been provided by 'Feldharmonie' - a woodwind octet. However, in 1797 Haydn's patron Nicolaus Esterházy had dismissed the Feldharmonie to save money.

Subsequent editors have added woodwind music to create a work more in keeping with Haydn's earlier work.

Colin Pettet
Haydn completed the mass for the saint day of Nicolaus' consort, Maria Josepha of Liechtenstein - 15th September 1798. He gave it the provisional title of "Missa in Angustiis" (A Mass for Troubled Times).

They were troubled times indeed. Napoleon Bonaparte's armed forces continued to win victories in Europe during the period of composition, and would shortly be threatening Vienna. They had also annexed Egypt and the vital trade routes to the east.

Even as the mass was being performed for the first time, those performing, and those listening, may have been unaware of a reversal in this apparently inexorable process.

Tina Guthrie
On 1st August Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson had led the British fleet in an engagement with Vice-Admiral François-Paul Brueys d'Aigalliers in Abū Qīr Bay where Brueys' troop ships had taken up a defensive position near Alexandria.

Virtually all the French ships were destroyed, leaving the French army stranded in Egypt. The British fleet now dominated the Mediterranean. Their success inspired European forces to engage the French in the War of the Second Coalition.

Somehow Haydn's mass became associated with the victory in European thinking, and it was unofficially referred to as "Lord Nelson's Mass". The newly honoured Lord Nelson visited the Palais Esterházy with Lord and Lady Hamilton in 1800, and the new name was adopted permanently.

When Haydn composed the "Nelson Mass", he was near the end of his liturgical composing career. Haydn had just returned from the second of two visits to London, for which he had composed a total of twelve symphonies.

Sam Felton
All of this orchestral experience went into the mass, together with a wealth of expertise in choral composition. Haydn had completed his "Creation" oratorio very shortly before, in April 1798.

Provided with the excellent music of Haydn, and the first class direction of Andrew Daldorph, the East Devon Choral Society were in their element. From their elevated positions they deluged the audience with spectacular sound.

In the brass section, Brian Moore and Claude Lamon were joined by John Hammonds for the opening chorus. This time the baroque sound of piccolo trumpets was replaced by the sound of the valved trumpets of the classical period.

Regular trumpets for Haydn
John Hammonds
Claude Lamon, Brian Moore
The opening fanfare was given additional punch by Sam Felton's kettle-drums. Almost immediately, the choir hit full stride in the familiar "Kyrie Eleison" which was taken up in quivering soprano voice by the visiting soloist, Rebecca Yates.

This exciting interplay between the full emotional power of the choir and the crisp delivery of the visiting opera soloists continued throughout the mass.

Rebecca also led the choir in the exultant "Gloria", in which the deep resonant voices of tenor Nicholas Yates and bass Tim Mirfin took up the tale in a skilfully coordinated canon, "Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis" (And on earth peace to men of good will.)

Four Voice Chorus
Rebecca Yates, Rachel Bennett
Nicholas Yates, Tim Mirfin
After a choral interlude, "Laudamus te" (We praise thee) Rachel Bennett continued "Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam" (We give thanks to thee for thy great glory.)

This exquisite interplay continued for twelve entrancing movements. The orchestra and soloists illustrating each with duets, canons, trios and four voice chorus.

Several instrumentalists were given their opportunity to add extra sparkle with succinct solo section. Not only the strings and trumpets (who made an unexpected and triumphant reappearance in the Benedictus), and of course Colin Pettit's organ playing, but also some of that re-introduced woodwind sound surfaced from time to time.

Andrew Garton
Tina Guthrie had more opportunities for flute flourishes, and Andrew Marlies and Catriona Jackson interjected sweet oboe playing. Almost hidden by Fiona McLean-Buechel's violin section, Andrew Garton was also evident, playing deliciously clear and melting bassoon.

Most impressive of all was the energy and precision of the musical director Andrew Daldorph. He seemed relaxed while simultaneously controlling a vast choir in three sections, his fellow organist (who was watching in his rear view mirror), four very talented soloists - and a twenty five piece orchestra.

Whether coaxing the choir to every greater heights, or reining in their exuberance, Andrew was quick to turn his attention to the other performers at a moment's notice.

Leading from Andrew's left, Fiona McLean-Buechel was highly attentive to his cues, and played with outstanding accuracy - as always.

Philip Belsham & Julie Hill
The doxology at the conclusion of the Gloria is so final, the mass almost seems to be at an end. Certainly those first four movements contain enough thrill and spectacle for a full oratorio.

However, the following eight movements maintain and add to the existing sense of joyous celebration, until the overall effect is almost overwhelming.

The closing "Osanna" of the "Sanctus" eventually brings the emotional experience back down to ground level for the gentle "Agnus Dei", a restful alto solo for Rachel Bennett, and a few parting words from the other soloists.

Congratulations for the Leader
Fiona McLean Buechel
The very last word, however, goes to the choir. Haydn added a special coda, in the form of an extended "Dona Nobis Pacem" (Give us peace).

With the orchestra still in full support, with even a little more of that sweet woodwind sound - and trumpets - the entire choir revelled in the last exhilarating moments of the evening's music.

It was a spectacular end to a concert brim-full of wonder and amazement. Splendid work by the orchestra and soloists, and their conductor Andrew Daldorph, but especially to Tiverton's highly talented and hard-working choir - The East Devon Choral Society.

First Class!

Fiona's Orchestra
Colin Pettet

and four superb soloists

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