Baroque to Bruckner

Baroque to Bruckner: Ceremonial Music for Choir and Brass. St John’s Catholic Cathedral, Norwich

Eastern Daily Press 5th July 2011

The resonance of the Catholic cathedral added a dimension to voices and brass in this programme of ceremonial music from the 17th and 19th centuries.

With a pair of trumpets and three trombones to add splendour, the 30-strong Colchester Chamber Choir, under Roderick Earle, showed their style as well as their vigour in a joyful anthem, in German, by Heinrich Schutz.

Henry Purcell’s coronation anthem for James II was also exuberant and thrilling. To the ominous beat of a muffled drum, the mood changed for the restrained, sombre magnificence of a sensitive interpretation of the funeral music for Queen Mary.

The artistic originality and religious faith in works by the Austrian composer Anton Bruckner made an equally strong impression, the performers showing flexibility in response to a wide range of demands. Emotions ran deep in a text from the Requiem Mass that was framed with soul-stirring trombone trios, while justified triumph was the theme of the exultant Behold a Great Priest.

Based on the alternation of a solo tenor in the role of a cantor and the choir’s full-throated ready responses, the setting of the Marian antiphon Thou Art All Fair expressed the fervour of Catholic devotion.

Christopher Smith