A perfect setting for Ex Cathedra choir is Birmingham’s uniquely beautiful Oratory, enhanced by soft lighting from the dome, shining over scores of candles gently illuminating the singers and instrumentalists. The atmosphere in this distinctive building is one of underlying enthusiasm from all, tinged with awe and wonder.
Four solo singers named, but from within the choir, were placed in front of their colleagues: no gentle moving around on this occasion. By far the major contribution was from soprano Katie Trethewey, possibly reflecting Mozart’s love for Aloysia Weber.
Splendid acrobatic vocal passages contrasted with expressive gentleness, matching effortlessly with discreet chamber organ and strings.
Jeffrey Skidmore inspires his singers with delicious awareness ranging from surprise pianissimos to fulsome crescendos supported by dramatic trumpets and timpani. This space is not the easiest acoustic to master with resonances swirling in the dome creating unavoidable distortions at times; but neat entries and clear phrasing helped counter such worries.
It is always delightful to see that the instrumentalists are totally involved. Subtle rapport between strings and gentle smiles from cellist Robin Michael at Mozart’s imagination and maturity were an added bonus.
Finally an exquisite Ave Verum Corpus sent us into a soft blue night, haunted by the beauty of such a fulfilling evening.