Battle Choral Society came home this month, and as part of Battle Festival, sang in St Mary’s Church for the first time in nine years.
Acoustics were just right, with a pleasing clarity and balance. Buildings and homecoming were quite a theme, around the cornerstones of Parry’s Coronation anthem, I Was Glad, whose majestic architecture resonated, and Brahms’ beautiful How Lovely are Thy Dwellings.
John Langridge is an outstanding director. He has the knack of drawing singers with him rather than simply dictating tempi and dynamics.
Opening with a Zadok sprightly and stately, the choir set itself a high standard: this was to be an evening of light and shade, not blare and belt. Lyrical tenors and rich warm basses were never overshadowed, and had some fine moments especially in two Mendelssohn choruses and in Vivaldi’s Gloria.
Other fine items included a thrillingly operatic Easter Hymn, from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana – with the fabulous soprano solo of Judith Colman simply taking the breath away.
But – chorally – the high point was probably Mozart’s Lachrymosa, from his Requiem. The truth of the music simply shone through: achingly, imploringly beautiful. I did say chorally. But this whole company of singers had to give a special place to a remarkable solo violinist. Jada Marsh, a Battle Abbey School pupil, is just 11, but her nimble fingers and intuitive understanding turned Beethoven’s Romance in F into a virtuoso performance. Well done, Jada. By Kevin Anderson.