October 2012: Vivaldi and Mozart in Exmouth

Holy Trinity Church, Exmouth, Saturday 27 October 2012

Source: David Marston (from a review published in the Express and Echo)

Exeter Festival itself might have declined and changed out of all recognition but happily, Exeter Festival Chorus has a life, vitality and freshness that continue to delight.

For this concert EFC was out of its more familiar performance space of Exeter Cathedral and “on tour” to Exmouth. The Arts Council used to promote this sort of thing as Outreach Work. Whether this was altruistic or simply about broadening their audiences, the singers received a delighted welcome.

With Vivaldi’s Gloria (Circa 1715) and Mozart’s Solemn Vespers (1779), this was sure to be a popular programme and with 60 plus singers accompanied by organist Jonathan Watts and regular collaborator Peter Adcock on piano, it was all pretty harmonious. Well, almost. EFC conductor, the infectiously upbeat Nigel Perrin, admitted that the church’s piano and organ were “in the same key but not quite close enough to each other”.

So they divided the work with the organ for the more baroque Vivaldi and the piano for the Mozart. It proved to be no problem. Also, it was good to see almost a dozen singers moving from the ranks to ably fill solo spots demonstrating the richness of musicality here.

There was sensitivity and precision in the Gloria although I can’t have been the only one to have been nearly blown away by the opening of We Give Thanks. It had a real sense of joy.

Some might argue there is little solemn about Solemn Vespers. Again, for me there was a sense of joy infusing this. A simply beautiful rendition of beautiful music.

There was also the bonus of five Spirituals from Michael Tippett, sung unaccompanied, demonstrating again, tight vocal work.

When so much work has gone into a concert such as this, you wish it had greater longevity. Perhaps a mini-tour of some of the fine churches around Exeter? Ottery St Mary? Crediton? Honiton? Maybe a thought for the next time they get itchy feet.