Review: Sheffield Oratorio Chorus, Sheffield Cathedral

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PERCHED precariously on a three-tier podium, conductor Alan Eost got through Brahms’ German Requiem in an hour but it didn’t sound fast, he simply kept the music moving without reverentially dwelling on the composer’s trademark longueurs.

It also meant the work’s more readily lyrical sections came over with considerable beauty, the soprano-dominated fifth movement being beautifully sung by Debra Morley as a further bonus.

Adrian Powter, on the other hand, was a perplexing baritone soloist, at times sounding impressive at others slightly uneven, but the work is essentially about the chorus.

When they were not wreaking havoc with the acoustic (or should that be the other way round?), an extreme example being complete mush of sound at the mighty conclusion of the third movement, the large Oratorio Chorus sounded in fine, united voice.

Projection of the vernacular veered from occasionally first-rate to the inaudible although you could never doubt the commitment and enthusiasm.

Although the dense, highly chromatic writing in the last movement gave the impression of pushing them, the same virtues applied in the performance of Jonathan Willcocks’ Lux Perpetua, an exercise in spot the composer!

Britten, Tippett, Rutter were obvious, but derivative though it might be, it’s an effective enough piece, particularly for Remembrance Weekend, while Nicholas Ward’s Northern Chamber Orchestra contributed mightily to both works.

Bernard Lee