July 2019: Vivaldi Gloria & Mozart Mass in C minor

Saturday 13 July 2019
Exeter Cathedral

Two choral classics were presented to a full Cathedral by Exeter Festival Chorus on a balmy summer’s evening. Accompanied with flair and spritely precision by the Southern Sinfonia and joined by a fine array of exciting young soloists, whose clear high notes and vocal dexterity brought the music to life, this was a very polished performance with every nuance and phrase considered and shaped.

It is hard to imagine the 200 years when the Vivaldi Gloria lay forgotten and unperformed, such is its current popularity. With the choir choosing to perform many movements from memory the piece was given added freshness and we were treated to a performance with direct communication. There were many highlights – crisp dotted rhythms maintained throughout ‘Domine, Fili unigenite’, confident soprano entries in ‘Qui Tollis’ and silky smooth oboe playing in ‘Domine Deus’.

Described in the programme as a ‘stirringly beautiful work’, the choir’s performance of Mozart’s Mass in C minor had it all. The solemnity of the opening movement contrasted with a brightly toned ‘Gloria’ and the virtuosic semi-quaver runs of the ‘Credo’ and confident contrapuntal sections (with a particular well done to the basses at the start of ‘Cum Sancto Spiritu’) brought this choral classic to life. The choir really shone in the central ‘Qui Tollis’ movement with a rich tone and fine dynamic shaping. With the added delight of woodwind playing of breath-taking beauty and impressive vocal soloists this was a highly enjoyable concert and fully deserving of the hearty final applause.

Angela Blackwell
14 July 2019