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Review: Viennese Classics by Kidderminster Choral Society at Kidderminster Town Hall

Christopher Morley reviews Viennese Classics by Kidderminster Choral Society at Kidderminster Town Hall.

Viennese Classics at Kidderminster Town Hall
****

Beavering away far from the bright lights of Brumopolis, Kidderminster Choral Society has long presented performances of the highest quality to music-lovers from the Wyre Forest and beyond.

Saturday was no exception, when Geoffrey Weaver’s enthusiastic choristers with their committed attitude tackled, after a workmanlike Schubert Mass in G, one of the most difficult works in the repertoire: no angular contemporary work, this, but a classical, neo-baroque one of huge stature -- Mozart’s Mass in C minor.

Mozart never bothered to finish this. Its “mighty torso” had served its purpose in showing-off to the composer’s crusty father the immense singing skills of the new daughter-in-law who had yet to win his approval.

And that stands on its own, just like Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony. So it was unfortunate that Weaver chose to use the highly unidiomatic completion conjectured by Alois Schmitt, with its various irritations.

Woodwind are scored in a conspicuously different manner from the miracles Mozart conjured from them, technical procedures are laboured and sometimes inappropriate, and it’s a copout to conclude with a return to the opening material. This is apeing Sussmayer who did it so successfully in his own completion of Mozart’s Requiem -- but then he was with the man right up to the moment of his death.

The performance itself revealed once again KCS’ remarkable gifts: richness of tone (thinning only slightly in 8-part divisions), agility of attack and delivery, and security of chording. Weaver conducts with the confidence that only meticulous rehearsal can provide.

And that must have lain behind the seamless interweaving of the two sopranos in their wide-ranging coloratura duos, fearlessly meeting Mozart’s demands. Publicity photos are usually ancient, and so it was difficult to identify which was which. But I think it was Naomi Berry who dispatched with aplomb the music with which Mozart showcased his new wife. Yet again the players of the Elgar Sinfonia rose above mere technical skill to perform with musicianly personality. Though we surely needed more than one double-bass in these sturdy contrapuntal textures.

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