25th April - 11th May
The Festival drew on a wide range of forces for its final performance – Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610. This is a heady undertaking for any group if only because the composer is writing to impress and expects the same of his performers.
The young soloists, many drawn from the RCM, certainly excelled themselves with particular vigour from tenors Thomas Hobbs and Lawrence Olsworth-Peter. They had an acute sense of style and musicality, as well as filling St Dunstan's church with glorious tone.
Canzona are a well balanced early-music ensemble who know the score well and were relaxed by its demands, particularly in continuo passages.
I wish the same could be said of the chorus. While female members were generally accurate dynamically and kept reasonable pitch, this was not true of the men who let things down badly. It was not until Lauda, Ierusalem immediately before the interval, that the men gained anything approaching impact and authority. Prior to that they were frequently off pitch and ill timed, and the suppressed dynamics indicated a lack of confidence throughout.
All of which made for a very uncomfortable evening, oscillating between strong professional impact and amateurism which should never have been put before an audience.
Earlier in the week, in the fine acoustics of St Leonard's School Chapel, the Sacconi Quartet had given us a committed and uplifting reading of Haydn's Quartet in G Op 54 No1, and a gently romantic account of Vaughan Wiliams' Quartete No 1 in G minor which was very much in keeping with Ravel's Quartet in F which concluded a fine evening.
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