This splendid programme rightly attracted a fair sized audience to this fine church on this beautiful evening. Starting with Zadok the Priest, the best known of the four coronation anthems by Handel, the choir, although numbering under 20 voices, produced an initial impact which was to set the tone for the rest of the concert. Their attack, featuring both tonal and dynamic precision, was thrilling and gave the orchestra a wonderful base upon which to add their own contribution. In this, the excellent trumpet playing of Malcolm Knapp and Alison Davidson was worthy of note.

The only purely orchestral item in the concert was Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No 4 in G. For this two excellent and well balanced flute soloists, Teresa Cory and Caroline Lomax, were joined by violin soloist John Martin whose handling of the virtuoso solo passages was a feature of the evening. The orchestra, under their conductor Simon Lambros, gave good support but one felt that the layout of the string players, with second violins facing the rear of the orchestra, was such that a proper balance between orchestra and soloists was never going to be entirely satisfactory. (This could have also prevented some untidy moments in the Handel). The several contrasting moments in the slow movement showed what might have been achieved. The soloists, moreover, situated behind the orchestra, might well have been better in front.

The choir, under their director Mark Johnstone, sang four unaccompanied motets by Bruckner. The range of tone and dynamics was considerable and the harmonic textures employed by the composer helped to create a remarkable range of contrasting sounds in these attractive works.

In the major work of the evening, the Magnificat in D major by Bach, the orchestra made a great contribution to an exciting performance. Notable were the contributions of all the wind players including an impeccable contribution from the trumpets once again (but why no third trumpet as Bach asks for?) The vocal soloists, Geraldine Rowe, Catherine Caunt, Jeremy Rowe, David Flinders and Andy Mackinder, were all members of the choir and their varied combinations with obligato wind produced some beautiful moments. The choir was again in fine form, making light work of the several tricky choruses in this wonderful piece.

David Hayes