Concert November 2022

Winchester Concert November 2022

Programme

Poulenc: Gloria
Vaughan Williams: Serenade to Music (Orchestral version)
Stanford: Gloria in Excelsis
Parry: I was Glad
Faure: Cantique de Jean Racine
Stanford: For Lo I Raise Up
Finzi: For St Cecilia

Soloists

  • Anna Dennis soprano
  • Nicky Spence tenor

Conductor

Sarah Baldock

Performing

  • Winchester Music Club choir
  • Winchester Music Club orchestra led by James Toll
  • Winchester College Quiristers and Glee Club

Concert Review by Duncan Eves

“Winchester Music Club chose to celebrate the patron saint of music with a varied and brilliant programme which allowed the choir, orchestra and soloists and, in particular, their new conductor, to shine. Sarah Baldock, recently appointed to the post of Director of Music at Winchester College, displayed total command of the assembled forces in a manner that was fully controlled yet devoid of any empty showmanship or gesture. The Music Club choir and orchestra and the Winchester College Glee Club and Chapel Choir responded with some splendid music-making.

Poulenc’s Gloria contains some challenging writing but the well-rehearsed choir and orchestra conveyed both the harmonic and rhythmic demands and the lyricism of this work. Winchester’s own star soprano, Anna Dennis, was a commanding presence, singing with power but also with much tenderness. There were some beautiful floating lines in the softer passages with moments of exquisite singing. As for power, her unaccompanied ‘Amen’, beginning on a fortissimo top G, must have stirred the bones of the ancient kings as it echoed down the nave.

The other major work came in the second half of the concert: For St. Cecilia by Gerald Finzi. The ceremonial mood of this work was brilliantly portrayed by the brass section while the choir sang with conviction and enthusiasm. Tenor Nicky Spence conveyed the wonders of Saint Valentine, George, Dunstan and Swithun in a glorious fashion, heroic tones mingling with more lyrical hues, while the choir excelled themselves in capturing the music’s majesty.

Winchester College Chapel Choir under the direction of Howard Ionascu gave a fine rendition of Stanford’s WW1 anthem For lo, I raise up. Another Stanford item, Gloria, composed for the Coronation of George V, raised the roof in its panoply of sound for full choir and orchestra, as did Parry’s Coronation Anthem I was glad. Anna Dennis shone yet again in the Stanford.

The choir displayed their ability to sing softly in Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine with the orchestra providing a lovely cushion of sound. All credit to the orchestra: the playing was magnificent throughout the concert and their rendition of Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music (in its orchestral version) was beautifully handled. The leader, James Toll, delivered his solos with a singing, sweet tone and the wind and brass blended superbly. Sarah Baldock’s first concert with the Music Club was definitely a resounding success.”