Saturday 30 March 2019, 7.30 pm, Nailsea Methodist Church

A programme comprising three works from the final year of a single composer’s life might seem lacking in enterprise but Nailsea Choral Society’s musical director, Tom Williams struck gold with Mozart in the company of a capable quartet of professional soloists and twenty fine instrumentalists led by Sarah Walsh along with a world-class clarinettist.

The capacity audience at Nailsea Methodist Church was treated to an immensely enjoyable experience of diverse music, starting with the evergreen miniature Ave Verum Corpus, which set the high standard of music-making for the evening, and which demonstrated Tom’s judgement of just how slowly and softly this gem can be sung to optimum effect by a large group of well-trained singers.

Centre stage was then taken by Poppy Beddoe for a definitive and sublime performance of the Clarinet Concerto K622. In fine partnership with the ensemble, she burnished all the beauty and sparkle of this unparalleled work which held listeners spellbound from start to finish.

If it is difficult to believe that Mozart, already terminally ill, wrote his sunlit clarinet concerto less than three months before his death, but the Grim Reaper certainly haunts his Requiem Mass, commissioned by a mysterious stranger, and which lay unfinished at the composer’s bedside when he died in December 1791. This performance drew out the full gamut of emotions expressed by a young genius facing his own untimely death.  Dramatic soprano, Honey Rouhani with the capable triumvirate comprising countertenor, Rob Waters, tenor, Oscar Golder-Lee and bass, Andrew Marshall, made telling contributions in the lighter scored solo sections. For its part, the choir was unanimously focussed on communicating the drama of smouldering desperation, imploring piety, inconsolable grief, wild panic and grim acknowledgment of mortality. There were beautifully measured contrasts with expansive phrasing, excellently organised fugal sections as in the Osanna, and impressive solid walls of choral sound as in the Sanctus, whilst no wither was left unwrung in the Lacrimosa, even if it wasn’t actually written by Mozart.

With a membership currently exceeding  80, this choral society is a fine example of a happy and highly successful non-auditioned choir where a gifted musical director and efficient committee work with a supportive membership to present enviably attractive concerts,  consistently supported by effective publicity, informative programmes  and slick platform discipline.

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