Vaughan Williams Mass in G Minor

and other works

The Granta Chorale

Saturday 2 April 2011 at 7.30pm at the Parish Church of St Botolph, Hadstock

The programme featured two main works, a lively Bach motet Lobet den Herrn and Vaughan Williams' delightful Mass in G minor as well as the music of Tallis and Byrd and both sacred and secular pieces by Monteverdi. Contemporary music came from Eric Whitacre (his chart topping Lux Aurumque) and the Chorale's conductor Janet Wheeler.


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The Granta Chorale provided us with another feast of glorious music ranging from the 16th century polyphony of Thomas Tallis to the 20th century Mass in G Minor by Vaughan Williams, with a little of Byrd, Monteverdi, Bach and Whitacre on the way.

The choir held our attention from the start with an energetic rendition of Byrd's "Laudibus in Sanctis" moving swiftly to a split choir formation for the Psalm Tunes for Archbishop Parker's Psalter by Thomas Tallis. Vaughan Williams' style was influenced by Thomas Tallis, and the hauntingly beautiful main part of his "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis" came across clearly in the tenor line of Psalm 2.

The Mass in G minor, billed as the main event of the evening, was nicely balanced and the choir delivered a well rounded tone with feeling, and a good dynamic range. The soloists all sang well and the entire Mass was a delight to listen to, with the particularly lovely Agnus Dei making a fine end to the first half of the programme.

After a swift glass of wine at half time the audience settled down into their seats again. Conversations over the break confirmed that everybody was enjoying the music. The choir is well supported by other singers in the area and one sees the same faces appearing at concerts time after time.

The second half of the programme featured a number of familiar Monteverdi pieces which the choir clearly enjoyed singing with gusto, particularly "Si ch'io vorrei morire" which is more than a little naughty but sung in Italian this side of things is often missed by the audience. The "Lux Aurumque" by Eric Whitacre was sublime, as Whitacre's works so often are, and Janet Wheeler's "Eternity's Sunrise" was a real treat, sung with real intensity and a richness of sound.

David Parry-Smith performed an organ solo "Partita on the chorale Ach wie nichtig, ach wie flüchtig" by Georg Böhm, a near contemporary of J S Bach, and the evening finished with a well paced rendition of Bach's "Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden".

Sue Flynn

Hadstock Vaughan Williams Poster