Brilliant soloists add to drama in epic con­cert

Huddersfield Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE -

Holm­firth Choral So­ci­ety (from left) con­tralto Sally Perkins, tenor David Heath­cote, con­duc­tor Dr Ge­of­frey Lockwood, bass Matthew Brook and so­prano Bethany Sey­mour ARTH, wind and fire! Men­delssohn’s epic or­a­to­rio Eli­jah (1846) had it all. Holm­firth Choral So­ci­ety, con­ducted by Dr Ge­of­frey Lockwood and ac­com­pa­nied by the Val­ley Sin­fo­nia and or­gan­ist Mal­colm Hinch­liffe, brought this am­bi­tious choral favourite to life. Four vo­cal soloists en­hanced the dra­matic per­for­mance.

Ba­si­cally, the Bi­b­li­cally-sourced text de­scribes dra­matic mo­ments in the prophet Eli­jah’s life.

We heard how the Is­raelites (the choir) begged God to end the drought with a com­mit­ted ren­di­tion of Help Lord, one of the Han­delian-style cho­ruses. This stun­ning choral sound hall­marked sim­i­lar mighty num­bers such as Thanks Be To God and the fi­nale Lord Our Cre­ator.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the vo­cal sec­tions oozed con­fi­dence dur­ing im­i­ta­tive pas­sages and dic­tion was out­stand­ing through­out – a real strength of this choir.

They en­deav­oured to com­mu­ni­cate drama in the­atri­cal episodes sup­ported by con­sis­tently re­spon­sive and re­li­able play­ing from the orches­tra.

The choir revved up dur­ing the con­test of the Gods, from the mod­estly paced Baal We Cry To Thee to the fre­netic Baal, Hear and An­swer. Grip­ping from start to fin­ish. And they did not fiz­zle out dur­ing the fast and fu­ri­ous The Fire De­scends From Heaven. In­deed, they were ‘on fire’ singing with an ex­plo­sive force. Some oc­ca­sional slips on en­try were res­cued and did not spoil the pro­ceed­ings.

Dr Ge­of­frey Lockwood clearly in­di­cated well-considered tempo changes be­tween num­bers. With a few more heads-up from the choir, es­pe­cially at key places, mis­takes Event: By: At: Re­view: at the start of tricky sec­tions might be avoided and also the singers will be able to com­mu­ni­cate more the mean­ing of the text to the au­di­ence.

Im­pres­sively, they tack­led sen­si­tive cho­ruses with con­trol and good in­to­na­tion and in­ter­preted Men­delssohn’s lyri­cal melodic lines with style. Lovely cantabile singing and a su­per choral blend in He That Shall En­dure To The End.

Over­all, en­sem­ble was first­class, as in cho­rale-like Cast They Bur­den and no­tably in the mul­ti­voiced cho­ruses.

The singing from the ju­nior cho­ris­ters from Christ Church, New Mill, was im­pres­sive. Not easy vo­cal lines; high, jumpy and ex­posed. You were brilliant!

In­ter­na­tion­ally renowned bass Matthew Brook added star qual­ity with his ut­terly con­vinc­ing per­for­mance as Eli­jah. A com­mand­ing and au­thor­i­ta­tive pres­ence was marked by vo­cal power and res­o­nance and in equal mea­sure some spell­bind­ingly quiet singing. Be­liev­able? I’ll say!

In con­trast to this big bass sound, tenor David Heath­cote pro­duced a lighter tone as Oba­diah.

There was per­fec­tion in so­prano Bethany Sey­mour’s pol­ished per­for­mances and Sally Perkins’ even-toned voice added dig­nity with thought­ful ren­di­tions of con­tralto arias.

I thor­oughly en­joyed this mem­o­rable per­for­mance of Eli­jah and would heartily rec­om­mend at­tend­ing Holm­firth Choral So­ci­ety’s Mes­siah on De­cem­ber 9.

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