Review – 5th October 2019 Concert: Handel, Haydn & Malabar

08/10/2019

The Medina Theatre was sadly only half full on Saturday October 5th for an enterprising and successful concert by the Cantata Choir, under their Musical Director Rachel Tweddle, in which the 18th Century met the 21st.

A spirited rendition of Handel’s ‘Zadok the Priest’ made an ideal opener, followed by the other anthems he wrote for the Coronation of George II.

In these, and in Haydn’s ‘Mass in Time of War’, which filled the second half of the concert, the choir sang with confidence, though at times they were rather overpowered by the orchestra.

There were many memorable moments, aided by well-blended singing from the quartet of soloists, with notable solos from soprano Jessica Broad and bass David le Prevost, and in the Handel bright, soaring lines from lead trumpeter Gareth Balch.

The Haydn Mass, as its title suggests, provides dramatic contrasts between martial trumpets and drums and more lyrical passages, and the dance-like conclusion brought the concert to a very satisfying end.

However, the highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the first performance of island composer Clive Malabar’s ‘Silent Stars’, specially commissioned by the choir. Inspired by a verse from Psalm 19, ‘The heavens declare the glory of the Lord, the skies proclaim the works of His hands’, the piece evokes the experience of looking up to the majesty of a clear night sky, with a message of praise, purpose and hope. The choir clearly enjoyed singing this attractive piece, there were many lovely details in the orchestration, and the audience responded with appropriate enthusiasm.

Charles Paterson