Consort returns to St Mary’s, Ely

Date: Saturday 9th March 2024
Venue: St Mary’s Church, Ely
Programme: Dvorak ~ Mass in D
Featuring: Ely Consort, Conductor ~ Matthew Rudd,
Quintessential Wind: Flute ~ Cherry Blanchard, Oboe ~ Lindi Todd, Clarinet ~ Claire Stevenson, Horn ~ Tim Summers, Bassoon ~ John Wingfield-Hill

The choir is phenomenal and has one of the highest standards in the district. The quality of their performance is amazing.

Under the astute directorship of the conductor Matthew Rudd, these singers were extremely well disciplined, without it being too over-done and produced some of the highest quality of singing that I have ever heard.

The balance of the four parts was never lost as these singers moved to sing in different choirs as the compositions required, ranging from a single choir to six choirs!

The works were written for choral performances and the way the parts echoed each other in numerous works, produced an impressive, complex but well-grounded texture.

Works present included works by Stanford, Marenzio, Raczynski and Wheeler.

Also appearing at tonight’s performance was the Quintessential Winds, a quintet of flute (played by Cherry Blanchard), oboe (Lindi Todd), clarinet (Clare Stevenson), bassoon (Tim Summers) and horn (John Wingfield-Hill). They entertained us with a delightful piece: Allegro ben moderator by Carl Nielson.

This piece seemed to explore textures more than anything as the flute and oboe were pitched together on a number of occasions – something we were dissuaded from doing when studying ‘orchestration’ at university.

The horn parts were also much more versatile than usual and performed particularly well. Some of the best sounds were when oboe and bassoon or flute and clarinet combined.

The horn was certainly more than a smooth voice to make the harmonies cohesive, it was indeed an individual contributor, managing many tricky passages. The quintet enhanced the choir’s performance accompanying it particularly well in the Dvorak Mass in D.  

Jane Wheeler’s composition followed in a similar style as it was inspired by Stanford’s Beati Quorum. I was particularly interested in hearing this piece for I knew Janet Wheeler of old when the Junior Choir from the Kings Ely were invited to record some of her programmes for schools at the BBC. I knew the metal of her work even then, so many years ago.

The way in which she followed the natural line of the words so well, produced some glorious harmonies and built-up tremendous climaxes made this work a worthy contribution to this concert and repertoire worldwide.

This wonderful evening ended with a fine performance of the Dvorak Mass in D. It was immediately apparent that Dvorak had the knack of producing beautiful lyrical melodies. Some of the most effective parts were in the Kyrie, the opening of the Gloria and the Benedictus and the peacefulness created in Agnus Dei.

None of the attributes of these compositions could be so readily admired except for the excellent performance of the choir.

Ely Consort next appear in Long Melford Church on Saturday 22 June performing works by Harris, Bach, Jonathan Dove, and Ola Gjello  

Review ~ Rosemary Westwell
Photos ~ Larry Piano

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