All Saints' Church, Eastbourne, January 2012
A Wonderful evening with Phoenix Choir, held at All Saints' Church, proved that the appointment of new Musical Director, Michael Fields, was inspired. From his humorous introduction, given in a friendly, relaxed way and the surprise of the opening Ave Verum Corpus being sung from the back of the Church, we knew that we were in for a very different concert. Michael Fields’ impressive musical background and his talents in leading a Choir became ever more obvious as the evening progressed.
The second piece in the all-Mozart programme was the Clarinet Concerto with the solo performance given by Philip Edwards, who apparently had only one week to prepare for this piece. This was an exciting performance and we could hear the delicate interplay between soloist and orchestra. The first movement, allegro, was expressive and light with very clear dynamics, the adagio gentle and here played with real sensitivity and the rondo showed his virtuosity. Throughout he displayed a variety of tone and control of the very fast runs from bass to treble.
The third piece, the ever-popular Exsultate Jubilate, requires a vocal fluidity and lyricism which the soloist, Ansy Boothroyd employed to give a thrilling performance. This piece is always a favourite and the singer proved herself with expert trills and well-controlled runs.
The final work of the evening; The Requiem in D minor, which was incomplete and finished by Franz Xavier Sussmayer after Mozart's death is an enigmatic piece, giving rise to many myths as to how much of the work was completed by Mozart before his death. In the Requiem Aeternam, the orchestra and chorus blended well and the soprano, sang from the pulpit, focusing our attention on her. All the voices blended well and with good, clear entries. Dies Irae maintained drama throughout and led into the Tuba Mirum. This began with the bass soloist Dionysios Kyropolous who sang with an expressive, rich tone whilst walking from the back of the church, enhancing the dramatic mood. He was joined by Peter Aisher, tenor, a warm, sensitive singer and mezzo-soprano, Lindsay Richardson, whose creamy, warm tone was very pleasing and by Ansy Boothroyd, soprano. The Recordare gave an opportunity for the orchestra to display their talent and the soloists blended together beautifully, uplifting and lyrical. All the sequences were excellent, with clear entries in the fugue sections and clear diction
The chorus kept a very confident air throughout and showed that they had been very well rehearsed to a high standard.
This was one of the best - if not the best - Phoenix Choir Concerts.
It was well attended and a magical evening. More, please!
By Jenny Beckwith with Carol Mounter