THE audience for the Trowbridge Chorus spring concert, in the elegant and historic setting of St James Church, had a double treat with the baroque glories of masterpieces by Vivaldi and Handel.
The concert, conducted by the benign but disciplined Graham Dalby, opened with Vivaldi’s Gloria, a work of transcendent music – even saying “Vivaldi’s Gloria” sounds happy and positive, doesn’t it!
The opening chorus, Gloria in Excelsis Deo, had just the right vivacious attack, and the energy and musicality of both choir and orchestra promised well for the rest of the work.
The soloists were both young singers at the start of their careers, soprano Eleanor Coton, who is in her third year studying vocal performance at the University of Chichester, and mezzo soprano Cassandra Dalby, who is in her final year at Trinity Laban Conservatoire.
Eleanor, who runs her own small choir at university, sang the beautiful duet Laudamus Te with Cassandra, and the solo Domine Deus, which was well suited to her attractive lyric soprano.
Cassandra, who has a particular interest in Scandinavian song, has a gorgeous rich mezzo voice which is perfect for baroque and late 18th and early 19th century music. She has extraordinary depth and tonal shading for such a young singer, and both the Vivaldi and the later familiar Handel aria offered an exciting insight into her potential range.
The second half comprised excerpts from Handel’s Messiah, including some familiar pieces – well, you can’t do Messiah without Hallelujah! can you?
With the experienced tenor Edward Coton as guest soloist, there were eight recitatives and arias, exploring the reaction of human beings to the crucifixion, appropriate timing for a concert a month after Easter.
The choir had fewer of the best known choruses – apart from the glorious All We Like Sheep – but a fine selection of thoughtful passages, including the poignant Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs and Since By Man Came Death.
He Was Despised is one of the composer’s most beautiful arias, and mezzo Cassandra Dalby has the ideal voice for it.
Pictured: Conductor Graham Dalby rehearsing with the chorus in St James Church, and the soloists, Eleanor Coton (left) and Cassandra Dalby.