50th Anniversary Concert: The Dream of Gerontius, Elgar
Sunday, 23rd November 2014, reviewed by Sasha Alexander
The Rosenethe Singers were formed fifty years ago, starting out as a small chamber choir which, under the guidance of various dedicated and demanding conductors, has grown into the polished, confident choir we hear in 2014.
For the 50th anniversary concert the choir, under its present conductor Matthew Beetschen, chose to perform Edward Elgar’s setting of Cardinal Newman’s poem “The Dream of Gerontius”, and the ancient cathedral of Dunblane was the ideal space for this work, both visually and acoustically.
From the quiet mysterious opening of the Prelude through to the final hushed Amen, the large attentive audience was held by the drama of the Soul’s journey, and all credit is due to the choir, soloists and orchestra who all performed with power and sincerity.
The choral writing poses huge demands, going from simple chorale settings to double choruses and contrapuntal passages. The Rosenethe Singers rose to the challenge, producing some lovely lyrical singing as well as coping with the harshness of the Demon’s chorus, and all with excellent diction.
The soloists, Valerie Reid, mezzo-soprano, Austin Gunn, tenor and Graeme Danby, bass, also sang with clear diction, and conveyed the drama of the music with the intensity of their performance.
The Scottish Bach Players, led by Angus Ramsay, with Christopher Nickol, organ, played with great conviction and provided some of the most thrilling moments of the evening.
Matthew Beetschen conducted with his usual flair and energy, always in control of his forces, and he and all the participants should be proud of this memorable performance.
We now look forward to Saturday April 25th 2015 for the concert “Sacred and Profane : 50 years of Rosenethe Singers"