Saturday evening’s performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio was a worthy representation of the excellent work of the Sheffield Bach Society.
Sheffield Bach Choir, the National Festival Orchestra, Alan Horsey (harpsichord) and four experienced vocal soloists combined under the direction of Simon Lindley to offer a satisfying musical experience to their appreciative audience
Other highlights were provided by the orchestra’s wind players: the difficulties of Bach’s long-breathed flute and oboe solos were negotiated with beauty and sensitivity and the trumpet section made considerable impact with their triumphant musical gestures.
A CREATION TO REMEMBER
Haydn’s The Creation, performed by Doncaster Choral Society at Priory Methodist Church on 13 November, is one of the pillars of the choral repertoire and a performance is always welcome, not least for the composer’s magnificent orchestral score.
And indeed this performance produced a cornucopia of delights. The alert choral singing, urged on by Simon Lindley, surely the finest musician in the North, was full of commitment and excitement, an eager response to the composer’s characteristically joyous life-renewing invention.
As I suggested at the beginning, the orchestra plays a substantial role, sometimes charmingly naïve (as in the pictorialism of the first half), sometimes attractively pointing the vocal argument, and occasionally, as so often with Haydn, innovative, like the overture, “Representation of Chaos”. This performance was fortunate in its instrumental support, by the fine, Northern based National Festival Orchestra (leader, Sally Robinson) whose playing had classical style; the many solo opportunities were eagerly accepted. Alan Horsey was the organist.
But above all this was a triumph for Simon Lindley, whose enthusiasm and attention to detail did Haydn proud.
Handel’s Messiah – Halifax Minster
This fund raising performance by Overgate Hospice Choir in memory of choir chairman Keith Scotford was a triumph, played and sung with passion and consummate musicality.
Conductor Simon Lindley authoritatively communicated the emotive message of this wondrous work and brought out immaculate playing from the National Festival Orchestra and splendid singing from the choir.
Every chorus was appropriately distinctive. Unto us a Child is Born, taken at a cracking pace, had genuine excitement, His Yoke is Easy bounced along blithely, He trusted in God was mirthlessly mocking, while Worthy is the Lamb and the final Amen filled the packed Minster witha profoundly moving wall of sound, Thomas Williams, counter-tenor, and soprano, Claire Strafford stood out for their purity of tone and expressive delivery.
Tenor, Paul Dutton, had emphasis and enthusiasm, while Quentin Brown, bass, was dramatic and tonally secure.
Handel’s exquisite accompaniments were played with great refinement, with outstanding contributions from orchestra leader Sally Robinson.
11th October 2010
The Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Co. which blazes into brief life each summer for the International G&S Festival at Buxton, offers the best representation of the ‘traditional’ approach to the Victorian operettas you are likely to see anywhere…..
……..The National Festival Orchestra, led by Sally Robinson, is sounding wonderful this year, the chorus was excellent, and the musical quality was undoubtedly enhanced by Richard Balcombe’s finely paced and skilful conducting..
Manchester Evening News Aug 7th 2010
…..conductor Richard Balcombe produced finely-paced and fluent playing from the ever-present National Festival Orchestra (ably led by Sally Robinson) , who deserve praise not only for their consistent quality but also for sheer stamina across the 22-day festival with productions daily…..
Manchester Evening News July 31st 2010
. . . excellent support from the National Festival Orchestra . . .
The Age (Melbourne)
. . . wonderful orchestral accompaniment . . .
The orchestra plays magnificently . . .
Music Web International
. . . the National Festival Orchestra makes a well-played, sympathetic contribution … David Russell Hulme conducts a vibrant an idiomatic performance . . this warmly recommended release..
German’s colourful orchestration is given its due by [the]players . . .
International Record Review