THE Choral Society’s uncompromising trademark soundworld, nutbrown sonorous texture with a soft surface and dynamics as the only tool for altering mood, must make it difficult to find fresh repertoire to perform to a convincing standard.
Puccini’s Messa di Gloria and Rossini’s Stabat Mater proved ideal.
They were gloriously sung within the given soundworld, which was effectively supported by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s own soft surfaced tone under their Principal Conductor Vasily Petrenko.
Puccini was 22 when he wrote the Mass as a graduation thesis from his home town’s music academy.
It is essentially a collection of opera chorus exercises in middle-period Verdi mode with orchestrations that pre-echo the melodramas of his mature years.
The music carries the words beautifully in terms of compositional technique but carries none of their meaning.
However it is a satisfying sing, for both chorus and audience, and good to hear once in a while.
The Stabat Mater, on the other hand, is a masterwork in every degree.
If it is true that Rossini had given up writing operas at the age of 37 because he feared the direction vocal writing would take in the future, then this work completed some 13 years later was written to keep the true vocal tradition alive.
And it succeeds without slavish adherence to the past – the unaccompanied choruses Eia mater and Quando corpus are wholly original concepts.
It was excellently delivered by the Choral and their soloists Katherine Broderick, Claire Bradshaw, Michael Bracegirdle and Christopher Purves.