Ottery St Mary Choral Society heralds Easter
Ottery St Mary Choral Society held its Spring concert in the Parish Church on Saturday, 8th April with the main item on the programme being appropriate for Easter: Dvořák ‘s setting of the 13th century poem ‘Stabat Mater Dolorosa’, depicting the suffering of the Virgin Mary at the foot of Christ’s cross.
The concert began with Parry’s ‘Blest Pair of Sirens’. Less well known perhaps than others of Parry’s works, this setting of an ode by Milton makes a powerful presentation of music and verse together as heaven sent manifestations. The choir, under musical director Malcolm Matthews, made a suitably robust start with sopranos rising clearly and strongly to their high notes. Overall, choir and orchestra caught the sense of the music well, especially at the shift of tone and tempo in the middle section making a dramatic contrast with the outer parts. The final section was powerfully done, bringing a good solid climax at the end.
The choir was then joined by soloists Héloïse West (soprano), Louise Mott (mezzo), Leslie Baker (tenor) and Alex Poulton (Bass) for the main work Dvořák worked on this composition bearing his own grief at the separate losses of three of his children, so the degree of anguish and grief he expresses is probably understandable. That baleful sense was well presented by choir and orchestra from the beginning and reinforced by Baker and West. Their splendid contributions enriched the entire piece throughout.
All four soloists shone in “Quis est homo”, the second section where each makes a contribution. Throughout the work one had the sense of the soloists listening and responding to each other to great effect. Back with the choir “Eia Mater” was a delight as, following a short interval, was the gently lilting melody in “Tui Nati”.
Tenor and soprano shone again together in their duet at “Fac ut”, West particularly showing her clear, strong voice, always free of unnecessary vibrato, right through to “Quando corpus” and the Amens where she soared exuberantly over the strong climax of singers, choir and orchestra together to close a truly tremendous combined achievement.