Bach’s Magnificat and Mozart’s Requiem

Richard Holledge reviews Hogarth Singers' latest concert


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Familiarity can cut both ways. It can breed contempt. It can inspire content. Any choir, amateur or professional can be certain of attracting a big audience to works such as Bach’s Magnificat or Mozart’s Requiem but just because the audience can hum along (preferably in silence) and tap their feet doesn’t mean it is easy to capture the subtleties and grandeur of either work.

Indeed, in his programme notes, Jonathan Wikeley, conductor of the popular Hogarth Singers described the Bach as a ‘short ride in a fast machine.’ He also pointed out that the vocal lines fly all over the place ‘like a sort of musical Spaghetti Junction’ which rather tempted fate because the piece got off to a slow start, whirring rather than powering into action as if entwined in pasta.

But within seconds the singers had gained pace and confidence and motored their way through the complexities with tuneful aplomb. The 20-strong chamber orchestra were abetted to dramatic effect by six brass cunningly concealed behind the massed ranks of the choir.

After the interval, the Requiem. Mozart’s last composition was written but not completed in 1791 when he was obsessed with premonitions of his own death. It is a glorious noise made splendid by the choir where the tenors and basses belied their lack of numbers with heroic passion. There was not a weak link among the soloists: soprano Elaine Tate, Mezzo-soprano Quintilla Wikely, alto Carris Jones, tenor Pauls Robinson and bass Oliver Hunt.

Andrew Wells on the organ brings solidity to the ensemble and Jonathan Wikeley injects a cheery professionalism which infects the choir who clearly enjoyed themselves.

And judging by the enthusiastic reaction of the crowd that packed the church last month (March 26) they were more than content.

The next concert on July 2nd sees a change of pace at St Michael and All Angels with works by John Rutter, Percy Grainger and a musical setting of Aesop’s Fables by Bob Chilcott. The choir welcomes new singers, particularly tenors and basses. Interested? Contact: or Phil Rhodes: 077682 82712

Richard Holledge

April 5, 2011

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