April 2006: Mozart and Patterson

Mozart: Mass in C minor (K427)
Patterson: Millennium Mass

Exeter Cathedral, 6 April 2006

Source: John Dalton

"For most people, sitting through the performance of one mass may be enough, and listening to the performance of two in succession may seem like an excess. But not when the two are by Mozart and Paul Patterson, and are as beautifully sung as they were last week by' the Exeter Festival Chorus in Exeter Cathedral.

The two works chosen by conductor Nigel Perrin for the choir's latest concert were composed more than 200 years apart, and provided two very contrasting settings of the Latin Mass.

First came Patterson's Millennium Mass, receiving its first performance in Exeter, where he has many connections. Born in the city, he was educated at local schools and played in a number of orchestras until he went to the Royal Academy. He stamped his personality on the Exeter Festival when he became its musical director in 1991 and it was he who established the Festival Chorus. He is now highly regarded worldwide as a composer. He was present in the cathedral to hear a fine performance of his mass, a beautiful work, so easy on the ear, without bowing to mawkish sentiment, and with contrasting passages of thoughtful contemplation and extrovert dancing rhythms. The choir was well disciplined, from the gently entreating Kyrie to the high spirits of the Credo and the splendour of the Sanctus, and a return to the peace of the Dona nobis pacem. A wide range of dynamics was achieved, from the quietest of passages to the blazing outbursts of the Sanctus.

I have to say, however, that diction was not always particularly good and at times it was difficult to know whether the choir was singing in Latin, or English!

The effective 'in between' range of the mezzo-soprano was beautifully engaged by Yvonne Fontane in the Credo.

Mozart's Mass in C minor, K427, remained unfinished. It lacks the Agnus Dei and part of the Credo. But what there is is incomparably moving and, even for Mozart, music of the highest quality. Soprano Martene Grimson sang the Laudamus te exquisitely and, at times, she was called upon to adopt an almost operatic style. She was well matched in her duets with Yvonne Fontane. Tenor Peter Wilman stepped in at the last moment for Sean Clayton to join the ladies in the trio setting of the Quoniam. Bass Alan Corbishly had but a minor role, having sat through all proceedings only to join his fellow soloists in the quartet setting of the penultimate Benedictus. At times divided into a double choir, the chorus sang immaculately and with conviction.

The orchestra, led by Richard Studt, deserved special praise for its performance in both works. The organ was played to good effect by cathedral organist Andrew Millington."


Remarks from Regional Representative of Making Music

Source: John Holt

Exeter Festival Chorus with the Sinfonietta and Andrew Millington - Organ
Conductor: Nigel Perrin
Soloists: Martene Grimson (Soprano), Yvonne Fontane (Mezzo-Soprano), Peter Wilman (Tenor), Alan Corbishley (Bass)

"Once again we were given a first class and uplifting performance of both works.
The Patterson Mass was equally dramatic in “Fortissimo” or the quietest sections.
(There was) first rate singing from the mezzo-soprano in this work."
"A high standard of playing (in the orchestra) with very good and immediate response to the conductor."
Organ – Andrew Millington - ''Excellent''
The conductor "The usual very high standard in all aspect"
"This was a concert of two contrasting works!
Both (were) sung and played with precision, clarity and emotion. The Patterson was ‘wonderful’ and I recommend it to all."

In his covering letter John Holt said "Once again we were treated to an outstanding performance by all concerned. It was truly a special evening in that we were able to hear the Mass by Paul Patterson – a truly marvellous piece of music."