On May 9 at St Mary’s Church, the Horncastle Choral Society presented an ambitious concert, opening with a gravely beautiful interpretation of Faure’s Cantique de Jean Racine with excellent balance and clear entries.
The major work was the very challenging Coronation Mass by Mozart. The tricky rhythms and quirky word settings were ably performed by the choir, while the soloists, Gail Hinkins, Penny Holland, Sylvia Ravenhall, Isabel Wilson, Peter Tayles, Tom-Colin Thorpe and Len Sutton maintained their composure in the notoriously difficult combinations of solo quartet.
Outstanding moments were the secure rhythms and telling entries at the end of the Kyrie, remarkably sharp sforzandi in the Credo and a very emotional and beautiful rendering of the Crucifixus. Gail Hinkins led a passionate plea for peace in the Agnus Dei, very appropriate for our times.
The best moments in the concert came in a salty and evocative performance of Alec Rowley’s cycle of Sea Shanties. The essential quality here was brilliantly clear diction.
The excerpts from Die Fledermaus were well performed but did not quite achieve the essential Viennese lilt (perhaps only Austrians can do this).
Some elements of staging, costume and, crucially, some narrative context might have helped relax the formal concert set-up and altered the mood.
All in all, a pleasing evening’s entertainment. Caroline Chadderton has obviously inspired committed hard work from the performers and, as ever, Chris Hinkins was totally reliable in his beautiful accompaniment.