Review: Singers shine in inspiring performance

Saint James’ Singers and Players, Verdi Requiem, All Saints church Leamington, Nov 29

There is something very thrilling to be faced by a choir of 150 and 50 musicians.

The combined voices of Saint James’s Singers and Banbury Choral Society delivered a mammoth performance chorally; large forces, too, were employed orchestrally, with percussion and brass very much to the fore.

Julian Harris conducts with strong personal insights, one of few conductors who avoids distorting such a wonderful work.

The impressive line-up of soloists Claire Watkins and Lorna Perry, were well supported by the talented David Soar and Ed Harrisson.

All four combined so very well in the offertory Domine Jesu – a highlight of the night. Perry and Watkins relished their roles in this tribute to Alessandro Manzoni’s writings at a time when Verdi won his battle to invite female voices to deliver Catholic Church rituals.

Perry gave the performance of her life, most especially Lux aeterna and with Watkins in Agnus Dei. The terrifying Dies irae requires a well-disciplined chorus, a disciplined brass section and strong soloists to achieve the outstanding clarity experienced in a fine performance.

Harris achieves invention and beautiful orchestral sounds in support of the charming vocal submissions by soloists, using varied phrasing and colouring between verses.

Seldom, if ever, have I so much enjoyed a Saint James’s concert with the joint chorus showing precision and perfection on one of Leamington’s big nights.

Rating 10/10

By Clive Peacock