Concert January 2024
- Hilary Cronin soprano
- Hugh Cutting countertenor
- Ruairi Bowen tenor
- Frederick Long bass
- Winchester Philharmonic Choir
- Winchester Philharmonic Orchestra led by Jean Paterson
- Winchester College Chapel Choir and Quiristers
- Winchester College Choral Society
- Winchester Cathedral Girl Choristers
- Winchester Cathedral Junior Choir
Concert Review by Duncan Eves
“It is not often that we see the cathedral packed with so many musicians, but Saturday evening’s performance of Handel’s Messiah was the exception. Under the inspired direction of Sarah Baldock almost 200 singers gave their all to the wonderful choruses that make up this choral masterpiece. For the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus Sarah even had to vacate her place on the podium as the young singers from the Cathedral’s Junior Choir added to the massed forces at the front of the staging – a rousing sound without doubt!
It is not all about the choruses, though, and we were treated to some fine singing from the four soloists. Counter-tenor Hugh Cutting set the bar high with his rendition of ‘But who may abide’, singing from memory at times, his voice having a thrilling edge on the top notes. He was also able to hold the audience very still in his moving account of ‘He was despised’. Soprano Hilary Cronin gave us lovely performances of ‘Rejoice greatly’ and ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth’, with neat articulation and dynamic contrasts in the fast runs of the former. Clarity of diction was good in all four soloists, notable right from the start with tenor Ruairi Bowen, his tone ringing in the cathedral acoustic and also from bass Frederick Long who produced a suitably dark sound when required. His majestic solo ‘The trumpet shall sound’ was accompanied by the brilliant trumpet playing of Cameron Todd.
Tempi were brisk, giving vitality to the choruses while the orchestra played with finesse and style. It was a good idea to have some solo passages accompanied by a smaller group of players, led with flair by Jean Paterson. All credit to the large choir who negotiated Handel’s fast runs with a sense of rhythm and ensemble and were alert to the conductor’s demands. Renewed vigour seems to have come from changing Winchester Music Club’s name and the enthusiasm which Sarah Baldock generates only added to the evening’s enjoyment.”