Applause heralded the entry of the Gisborne Singers into a full St Ambrose hall. Director Stephen Brockman gave a little eyebrow raise, which spoke of his sense of fun and anticipation.
Bach’s Magnificat is a challenge. It is a fine line between a complex interweaving and an almightly mess. The Singers were always on the correct side! The opening chorus, Magnificat was joyous, whilst the Omnes Generationes pulsed with life. The Fecit potentiam was a display of power, although the peppering with hissing consonants was a minor quibble.
We heard from the new flame-haired alto soloist Charlotte Betts-Dean, whose security of pitch and time, and self-possession, belies her youth. The richness in her voice is obvious and will surely increase. Charlotte is a great addition to other well-loved soloists Catherine Pendelich, Peter Mander and Manfred Pohlenz..
The young orchestra was a pleasure to hear. There were playful flutes, a gentle heartbeat from the cello, and the trumpets were always ‘spot on’ – an excellent thing in a trumpet. The strings were confident, although slightly unyielding when accompanying a soloist.
I suspect some listeners find the length of the Stabat Mater a challenge. However, they could not have failed to appreciate the dignified yet impassioned delivery.
The concert concluded with well-deserved foot-stomping and sustained applause.