REVIEW: Fernhurst choir ends season on a high note

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The Fernhurst Choral Society offered a full audience a treat on Saturday when they performed a concert at St Alban’s Church, Hindhead, combining much-loved favourite works with lesser-known, but equally interesting, musical gems.

The evening began with Gabriel Fauré’s sublime Requiem, performed by the choir with confidence and a lovely warmth of tone, particularly from the alto section. Soprano Sophie Gallagher’s voice lent a richness to the Pie Jesu, and Bass Richard Paterson delivered a focused Libera Me.

Conductor Timothy Ravalde lead the choir in O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht by JS Bach to open the second half. The tenor and bass sections blended very well to deliver a sound that balanced with the larger-numbered soprano and alto sections.

Organist Paul Provost accompanied the choir throughout the evening, and also performed two solo pieces: JS Bach’s Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott and CHH Parry’s Elegy, both of which were elegantly played and well received by the audience and choir.

Ravalde should be commended for his considered selection of music for the evening. Audiences love the Requiem, but many will not be familiar with Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb – it is a curious piece based on the poetry of an 18th-century poet, Christopher Smart, writing from an asylum. Smart writes of Old Testament figures joining with animals in praise of God, with sections featuring everything from musical instruments to letters of the alphabet, all relating back to God.

Britten’s score complements the words wonderfully, and the choir seemed to enjoy the quirkiness – they sang with a unity that comes with good dedication to the music. Alto William Waine and Tenor Edward Williamson, along with Gallagher and Paterson, performed convincing solos singing the praises of all creatures great and small (quite literally – one treble solo considers a cat named Jeoffry, another dotes on a mouse). This was a dramatic piece that was a welcomed addition to the usual choral repertoire.

I Was Glad by CHH Parry was given a special twist by Ravalde when he lead the soloists as a quartet in the middle of the piece; this gentle segment, usually sung softly by the choir, sparkled with the four voices performing together. The full choir returned to finish the piece, with an energy that finished the concert on a real high.

Christine Asbridge

For more information please contact: Email: fernhurstchoral@gmail.com; Phone: 01730 816542; Facebook: Fernhurst Choral Society; Twitter: @FernhurstChoral

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