Choir singing in Royal Hall
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Haydn - Paukenmesse, Trumpet Concerto, Insanae et Vanae Curae
Mozart - Symphony No 40, Ave Verum Corpus
Royal Hall, Harrogate, 8 November 2008

A roaring success is the way I would describe the concert in the Royal Hall on Saturday 8th November 2008. Harrogate Choral Society, under their conductor Andrew Padmore, continued their Diamond Jubilee celebrations with a concert of music by Haydn and Mozart. The 135 strong local choir supported by the Manchester Camerata and the trumpet soloist Alison Balsom, presented an evening of music guaranteed to please the most discerning of listener.

The programme started with Haydn’s ‘Paukenmesse’. The opening ‘Kyrie’ demonstrated from the outset that the choir were able to deliver a powerful sound with the precision and control of a much smaller group of singers. The female soloists, Yvonne Seymour (soprano) and Karina Lucas (mezzo soprano) set the tone of the work with the first impressive solos of the night. A special mention at this point, must go to Yvonne Seymour who stood in at the very last minute and saved the day.

The work continued with the ‘Gloria in Excelsis Deo’. The energetic introduction was full of enthusiasm, but rhythmically did rock slightly, not helped by some poor intonation in the horns. This, however, was merely a blip and settled very quickly. By the time Alistair Ollerenshaw (Baritone) began his solo, it was nothing but a vague memory. After this, the performance went from strength to strength, the ensemble of the soloists excellent and Stephen Newlove (tenor) completing the quartet. The final section of the last movement, ‘Agnus Dei’ built to a rousing and jubilant climax. Andrew Padmore made sure that every attention to detail was observed and that nobody was left in any doubt as to why the Harrogate Choral Society is Harrogate’s premier choir.

The first note of the trumpet solo played by Alison Balsom, demonstrated why she was named Best Young British Performer at the 2006 Classical Brit Awards. The performance of the Haydn Trumpet Concerto can only be described as exquisite! This writer, a brass specialist who has heard this work performed on a number of occasions was left absolutely breathless at the flawless technique and musicality of Miss Balsom’s playing.

The second half of the concert started with Harrogate Choral Society performing ‘Ave Verum Corpus’ by Mozart. It was obvious that the choir had relaxed and were really enjoying the concert. This was evident in the energy and power of the sound that they produced; the quality of singing, a fine example of how this work should be performed. The Manchester Camerata not to be out done then gave a faultless performance of ‘Symphony No.40 in G Minor’ by Mozart. Andrew Padmore directed the orchestra with his usual precise and controlled direction, delivering a passionate rendition of the work. This was an excellent choice for the programme and complimented the other music well.

The evening ended with the choir singing ‘Insanae et Vanae Curae’ by Haydn and this brought the evening to very satisfactory conclusion. In recent memory if I have enjoyed a concert more, I cannot remember when. The Harrogate Choral Society excelled, and the Royal Hall is a venue that suits the choir well. Their next performance is Handel’s Messiah on the 6 December 2008 at the Royal Hall. I highly recommend this concert as the best way to start Christmas 2008.

Nick Garside
Director of Music
Harrogate Ladies’ College