Angmering Chorale delight Arundel Cathedral audience

Angmering Chorale Spring Concert: three soloists
Angmering Chorale Spring Concert: three soloists

REVIEW by Jim Hurdwell

Angmering Chorale’s 2019 Spring Concert began most unexpectedly for Contralto Soloist, Marie Elliot. You see one of those proverbial “little birds” had let it be known that it was her Birthday! Never one to miss such an opportunity, George Jones (MD) invited everyone, accompanied by the Sinfonia of Arun, to help her celebrate in customary fashion!

George then opened the (metaphorical) blinds to reveal some gems from two of 18th century Venetian music’s finest, Antonio Vivaldi and Tomaso Albinoni. Choir and soloists were joined once again by the strings of the Sinfonia of Arun under their leader, Robin Morrish with two oboists, a trumpeter and Angmering Chorale’s very own accompanist, Alison Manton, on keyboard duty.

Vivaldi’s Magnificat is one of many splendid settings of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Hymn of Praise many of which can be heard in the weekly Choral Evensong broadcasts on BBC Radio 3. A well balanced Chorale and orchestra delivered this with due reverence and delightful contributions from Elliot and the two soprano soloists, Harriet Eyley and Elinor Rolfe Johnson especially in their duet. Congratulations also to Mark Kendall - not only a regular Chorale member but also a professionally trained operatic tenor who nowadays works in artist management.

Albinoni’s Adagio in G minor for strings gave us all a chance to savour both the beautiful sonority of the Sinfonia strings and their leader’s exquisite violin solos with Manton’s sensitive organ line. Our informative programme notes revealed that this very popular piece may actually be the work of Remo Giazotto who, in 1945, is believed to have discovered only a fragment of Albinoni’s original manuscript.

The first half concluded with Dixit Dominus which featured some deft piccolo trumpet playing from the Sinfonia’s Jon Yates. Here again we heard magnificent singing from all and one should mention that Mark Kendall was joined by two bass soloists from the choir, Jez Arnold and Andy Cresswell who performed with great assurance.

After the interval we returned to Albinoni and his Concerto for two oboes in C major. This was skilfully and artistically performed by the Sinfonia’s Co-Principal Oboists, Rob Hinchliffe and Clare Worth, who blended superbly and clearly benefitted from the accomplished support of the other musicians.

Vivaldi’s Gloria is arguably the best known and most popular of his choral works. It is possibly the most widely performed too but, from the outset, its choice as the final piece of the evening could not have been bettered. Everyone, performers and audience alike, clearly both loved and enjoyed this exciting masterpiece which was sung and played with great gusto and expertise from beginning to end. The Cathedral resounded to a feast of choral and orchestral sounds.

We all made our way home not just contented but delighted with another great concert superbly executed under the direction of maestro George Jones. Marie Elliot will surely remember a very special birthday!

Jim Hurdwell