East Grinstead Choral lived up to their reputation with this truly momentous performance

The East Grinstead Choral Society has long been regarded as the leading classical choir in the area.

Their performance of Bach’s monumental Mass in B Minor in the Jubilee Community Centre in East Grinstead confirmed that this choir still lives up to its first class reputation. Equally outstanding was the Meridian Ensemble. This period instrument band has members who are regular players in some of the UK’s most celebrated period instrument orchestras. The Ensemble’s excellent accompaniment was truly captivating throughout the entire performance.

All five solo singers were assured in their delivery of both the music and the text. The choir’s Musical Director, Richard Jenkinson, conducted with great clarity and musicianship inspiring a polished performance that was both powerful and moving.

The majestic opening five part Kyrie was compelling. The ensuing fugal section was crystal clear with excellent tuning and lucid diction. I felt the phrasing was a little clipped for the dry acoustic but it was good to hear choir and orchestra so well matched. The Christe Eleison for two sopranos was light and buoyant.

The initial section of the Gloria was suitably effervescent. The following Laudamus Te for Soprano 2 featured a dazzling violin obligato played by the orchestra’s leader George Clifford. The Gratias had an alluring legato with some glorious choral singing. Jenni Harper (Soprano 1) and Matthew Pochin (Tenor) sang beautifully in the Domine Deus.

This beguiling duet accompanied by obligato flutes was one of the highlights of the first half of the concert. Countertenor Glenn Kesby’s Qui Sedes with oboe obligato was also exquisite. The Cum Sancto chorus was a glorious and fitting conclusion to the first half with its fast, articulate fugal passage work.

At the opening of the Credo the bold singing in the tenor section was so enthusiastic that some sharp singing and initial raggedness appeared. However, this soon settled.

The Patrem omnipotentem was much more assured with a neat ensemble and a magnificent conclusion. In complete contrast the long descending lines of the Et incarnatus est and the Crucifixus depicting Christ’s suffering and crucifixion were truly heartfelt. A vibrant Et Resurrexit followed.

The chorus excelled in their delivery of the expansive velvety phrases in Bach’s luscious six part Sanctus and in the spirited antiphony of the eight part Osanna. There was another outstanding duet this time for Soprano 1 and Countertenor. Glenn Kesby’s Agnus Dei was another high point. His mellifluous singing had a sensitive string accompaniment. 

The final chorus Dona Nobis Pacem with its soaring vocal lines brought the Mass to a triumphant close with a fervent plea for peace.

What a truly momentous concert. I hope the EGCS continues to be regarded as the leading classical choir in the area for many years to come!

Virginia Stone (GGSM)

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© 2015 East Grinstead Choral Society.

Registered charity number 801961