REVIEW: The Chichester Singers, Chichester Cathedral

Chichester Singers and Southern Pro Musica triumphed again in their outstanding Cathedral concert which featured magnificent works by Schubert, Handel and Pergolesi.

A superb orchestra (Southern Pro Musica), strong and sound singing from the finest group of soloists and the choir at its very best singing with conviction and enthusiasm made this concert an exemplary performance.

Their interpretation of Handel’s Dixit Dominus was immensely exciting and dramatic. The five soloists were all equally matched and magnificent particularly when singing as a quintet. The two sopranos Eleanor Dennis and Robyn Parton complemented each other well and together with the exquisite singing of contralto Fiona Mackenzie, tenor Anthony Gregory and bass David Milner-Peace made this a star group of soloists.

The Chichester Singers were more than equal to the challenge of Schubert’s masterpiece Mass in G major, written when the composer was only 18. The singers and soloists displayed its maturity and lasting appeal.

Particularly beautiful was the Benedictus, Credo and Gloria performed by three of the soloists.

Outstanding in the concert was six movements from Giovanni Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, a beautiful example of baroque sacred music. Soprano Robyn Parton and contralto Fiona Mackenzie faithfully achieved the agony and drama of Mary’s sorrow at Christ’s crucifixion. The style although operatic loses none of the devotional quality.

Once again it was Jonathan Willcocks’ enthusiastic and masterly direction which ensured the choir, orchestra and soloists gave such memorable performances.

Graham Hewitt