The choir, conducted by Alexander Douglas, opened this concert of Music for Lent and Easter with Elgar’s ‘Great is the Lord’ (1912). We heard a rich choral sound, especially from the basses.
The singers worked hard to maintain this level of performance in a programme of challenging pieces that spanned over 500 years in origin.
Beautifully shaped phrases featured in the Baroque motet ‘Crucifixus’ (early 18th Century) by Lotti. Adventurous chromatic passages were sung with secure intonation and tight ensemble, as was ‘Pater Noster’ (1926) by Stravinsky.
An unexpected highlight was the choir’s committed performance of contemporary piece ‘Remember, O Lord’ (2003) by Jonathan Harvey. Superb contrasts of light and shade were produced and the seamless joining of the choir to the soprano soloist created a magical ending.
Some sticky moments of ensemble and some untidy word-endings in the ‘Four Lenten Motets’ (1937) by Poulenc did not detract from the choir’s otherwise sound performance standard.
Their singing was often enhanced by Darius Battiwalla’s sensitive organ accompaniment and he also entertained us as a soloist. In the Prière in C# minor by César Franck he demonstrated an impressive independence of each hand, and feet, during complex polyphonic passages that were coloured with careful registration.
The vocal soloists, Heather Heighway and Rowan Maurice delighted us with Mozart’s ‘Laudamus Te’ and Handel’s Why Do the Nations?
The Huddersfield Singers performed ambitious pieces to a good standard, reached in part by a reliance on natural leaders within each section. These singers ‘looked up’ and responded to the conductor’s directions.
More ‘looking up’ from more members will result in not only good, but excellent, ensemble singing. Nevertheless, the choir pushed the boundaries of choral music yet again. Bravo!