News and Reviews

  • Summer Singing 2024 - Shakespeare in Song
  •  Date Posted: Sat, 29 Jun 2024
  • Review of Prelude to Christmas, December 2023
  •  Date Posted: Sun, 7 Jan 2024
  • Review - Rutter Gloria
  •  Date Posted: Tue, 6 Jun 2023
  • Review - Handel's Messiah
  •  Date Posted: Fri, 4 Nov 2022
    Stratford Choral Society Concert
    Handel’s Messiah
    Holy Trinity Church

    Review by Alex Austin

    Handel’s great masterpiece is the most popular of choral works and rightly so as well demonstrated by this superb performance which clearly revealed it as a work of sheer musical genius. It has marvellous melodic content, vast emotional range, brilliant expressiveness and powerful drama. The choral society have performed the work regularly over the years and that familiarity showed with a firm grasp of the music. They were perfectly accompanied by four outstanding young soloists and the Regency Sinfonia. It was brilliantly conducted by Oliver Neal Parker who moved the work along at exactly the right tempo, carrying the narrative forward with originality and freshness. It was a marvellous story marvellously well told.

    From the opening bars of the overture you knew you were in safe hands with the totally assured playing of the Sinfonia which lasted throughout. The tenor Matthew Keighley began the story with a ‘Comfort ye’ which was indeed truly comforting. His unusual warm and mellow tone was employed to great effect in an original and convincing performance. His recitative ‘Thy rebuke hath broken his heart’ was extraordinarily beautiful and moving, as was almost everything he sang. The opening chorus ‘And the glory of the Lord’ was sung with glorious lightness and rhythmical bounce. The magnificent bass, Eugene Dillon-Hooper, boomed in with a scary ‘Thus saith the Lord’, his voice powerfully dramatic for one so young with exceptional volume and declamatory skill. His ‘Why do the nation’s’ was thrilling and the great bass show-piece. The trumpet shall sound was utterly magnificent and the trumpet playing brilliant. You won’t hear the piece done better.

    Elizabeth Irvine , the alto was another virtuoso singer adorning her pieces with some spectacular runs and ornamentations all done with supreme confidence. Her intense ‘He was despised’ was heart-rending. The stunning quartet of soloists was completed by soprano Fleur Moore-Bridger, a real star who gave a dazzling performance, using her exquisite silver voice to beautiful effect. Her top noted rang out spectacularly powerful and pitch-perfect no more so than in ‘I know that my redeemer liveth’, particularly at ‘now is Christ risen’ and there were some fine contrasts in her singing. Her voice was well suited to the lovely ‘How beautiful are the feet’ in a really lovely warm and tender rendition. All of the soloists’ set-pieces were all sung superbly and in the whole concert there were really too many choral highlights to single out. I’ll just mention the serenely pure entry of the sopranos in ‘And he shall purify’ and the profoundly moving ‘’the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all’. Their magnificent and overwhelming Hallelujah chorus was attacked with spine-tingling zeal. The thunderous ovation which this fine five-star performance produced was thoroughly well-deserved and the whole concert was a powerful reminder of the wonder of God becoming human and the fullness of life which Christ’s birth brought, which is at the heart of the real meaning of Christmas and the heart of this wonderful work.

    Alex Austin
  • Concert review - March 2022
  •  Date Posted: Mon, 15 Aug 2022
    Concert review - March 2022
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