Saturday 25 June 2022
The Mint Methodist Church, Exeter

Anyone coming along to the concert and expecting a concert of gentle, Baroque music was in for a shock at the Mint Methodist Church last night.

Andrea with the three soloists This was a concert full of vivid story-telling and drama. It began, unusually, with a recitative to set the scene and an opening chorus which was not only wonderfully rich and full in its sound but clearly communicated the meaning of the text.

Handel’s oratorio, with its large number of choruses and double choruses, very much suited the choir. There are not many “amateur” choirs, I imagine, that can sing eleven consecutive choruses and maintain their pitch, their strong rhythmic sense in contrapuntal writing and create such a wide range of tone colours.

The choir was joined by talented young soloists – Matthew Bawden, Molly Beere and Sophie Williams – and Devon Baroque Orchestra. Devon Baroque complemented the choir perfectly with their dramatic depiction of jumping frogs, flies and hail stones.

There were many impressive and memorable moments in this enjoyable concert from the adeptly handled angular phrases of ‘They loathed to drink at the river’, the quiet, legato singing of ‘He sent a thick darkness’ and the precise consonants of ‘And it was dried up’ to the beautifully phrased ‘shall melt away’ and the energy and drama of ‘He gave them hail stones’. The latter chorus was so exciting that the audience around me clearly wanted to clap! 

Under the inspiring musical direction of Andrea Brown, the choir, orchestra and soloists treated the audience to a most uplifting evening of music; ending with a magnificent finale full of glory and splendour.

Angela Blackwell