Ardingly Choral Society presented a fine evening’s music-making on the very cold Sunday, March 24th in Ardingly College’s Chapel. Their programme of Rossini’s Petite Messe Sollennelle with Mascagni’s Evening Hymn featured the excellent soloist quartet of Sally Harison, Cari Searle, Luke Price and Robert Davies with the Mid Sussex Sinfonia, ably lead by Martin Palmer and under baton of Maestro, Robert Hammersley.
The Choral Society has for so long been the backbone of serious music making for musical folk who seek …’an enjoyable time singing superb music’. Ardingly Choral’s strap-line was once more realized in this evening’s entertainment where the choir were buoyed along in a demanding programme by a peerless performance from their solo guests.
Pietro Mascagni’s deliciously romantic Evening Hymn was a challenge in musical ex
It was good to hear the Rossini in its full orchestra version - being more frequently heard in the piano and harmonium rendering – which gave a very robust and broad slant to the work. The orchestra – to whom very little acknowledgement was made in the printed programme – gave a full and strong lead for the choir to follow. The singers could have listened to and responded more to the orchestra’s shades of dynamic and expressive variation but they negotiated well the difficult chromatic Kyrie and the fugal entries in the Christe. The Gloria introduced the four soloists; the Gratias trio of lyrical Cari, fine stand-in tenor Luke Price and magnificent, full-bodied bass Robert Davies this reviewer could have listened to all day long, as with the soprano Sally and alto Cari’s duet in the Qui tollis section. All four were superb in each of their contributions and the choir ably got their teeth into the Cum Sancto Spiritu to bring the first half of the evening to a close
The second half completed the Messe with many excellent short solos in different combinations and the rather strange Offertorium for the orchestra was well delivered. The choir, at best in full voice in the Credo, maintained their concentration to the blissful final Agnus Dei in which Cari showed incredible, controlled full-volume singing to rise over the choir in over-drive to bring the work to a rousing finale.
Review by: Simon Austin