Hertford Choral Society performed Mozart Requiem and McDowall Magnificat on 11th November 2017, with London Mozart Players and Soloists: Katy Hill (soprano), Clare McCaldin (mezzo), Jeremy Budd (tenor), Alex Ashworth (bass).  Musical Director and Conductor was Derek Harrison.

McDowall’s piece, dating from 2003, was new to me, and, I suspect, to most of the audience. It is a sublimely beautiful work featuring extended solos and duets for soprano and mezzo. The sections Ecce enim for soprano solo, and Quia fecit  were especially striking, as was Et misercordia for solo mezzo. The orchestral writing was unusual and effective. Overall, an attractive and interesting piece I would like to hear again.

With Mozart’s requiem we are in more familiar territory. This is a stunning work, and such a unified whole that it is hard to believe that two composers were involved. (Mozart left the work unfinished at his death, and his pupil Sussmayr completed it from his sketches) It is not “blood and thunder”, like Berlioz and Verdi, but deals with themes such as Dies Irae (Day of wrath) and Tuba mirum (The last trumpet) in a relatively subdued way. The Confutatis, however, is both fiery and dramatic. The work eventually comes to a calm conclusion, appropriate to the theme of eternal rest.

The four soloists, working as a quartet, made a magnificent contribution, and the soprano solos were superb, soaring above the chorus like an angel on the wing. The chorus gave an impeccable performance as usual, delivering the text with clarity and excellent intonation. The London Mozart Players, as one would expect, proved ideal interpreters of all this music, and Maestro Harrison conducted with his usual intelligence and authority.

Great performances of great music. It is a tragedy, of course, that Mozart never heard a note of this work except in his “inner ear” as he composed it. If he and Sussmayr were listening from above they would surely not have been disappointed.

Gordon Williams

2017-18 Concert Season

HCS has several concerts planned for this season, three at our usual venue of All Saints' Church, Hertford, SG13 8AY and in the summer we are singing at St Albans Cathedral.  Please click through to find out more details and how to buy tickets:

Saturday 24th March 2018: Rutter Requiem, Bernstein Chichester Psalms, with Harp and Organ, at 7.30pm, at All Saints Church, Hertford

Saturday 9th June 2018: Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony with the Chameleon Orchestra, at 7.30pm, at St Albans Cathedral, St Albans

Read the review of our first concert of this season: Saturday 11th November 2017: Mozart Requiem, McDowall Magnificat

We enjoyed a fantastic It's Christmas concert with Abel Smith School Choir, Hertford on Saturday 16th December 2017

Watch HCS Sing

Reviews of Past Concerts