Review: The Renaissance Choir “Vespers” concert

Vespers’ at St Peter’s, Petersfield on Saturday 26th October, was a concert of two distinct halves, two celebrated composers, and two distinguished performances.

In the first half, conductor Peter Gambie presented Mozart’s Vesperae Solonnes de Confessore, said to have been strongly influenced by Michael Haydn’s Requiem Pro Defuncto Archiepiscopo Sigismundo featured in the second half. And ‘by Jove’ did it live up to its reputation of being strikingly beautiful . . . it was emotionally electric and the collective voices of the Choir echoed the enormity of the composer’s messages, pulsing and sobbing the meanings within the psalms. Most striking of course was the spectacular Laudate Dominum where the vibrant and remarkably rich soprano voice of Susan Yarnall, soared to the rafters, taking us along with it.

For me, however, the absolute highlight of the evening had to be Haydn’s Requiem Pro Defuncto Archiepiscopo Sigismundo, where, even in the first movement, the individual voices came together in unison raising our hearts, our expectations – and our pulses! Singing alone and at times together, the soloists, brought an emotional depth to the performance with Haydn’s score giving them ample opportunities to showcase their voices. When a conductor can select twelve individual soloists from the ranks one begins to understand the rare quality of The Renaissance Choir! The close relationship between conductor and choristers was evident in every look, movement and sound, and the whole programme was ably accompanied by Mark Dancer, Director of Music, St Peter’s Church, Petersfield.

The overall success of the evening was finally captured in a breath-taking moment of silence followed by extensive, rapturous applause and general cheering for a truly magnificent performance.

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