Intriguing choices truly delivered

APRIL saw an intriguing and varied concert at Todmorden Town Hall, with the Todmorden Choral Society and Todmorden Orchestra under the baton of conductor Antony Brannick, joined by a quartet of solo singers and – surprisingly – a solo double bass.

The rich sound of the Todmorden Choral Society in full flow is a thrilling and moving sound, and the generous acoustic of the Town Hall allowed the first item, Byrd’s ‘Sing Joyfully’, to fill the space with its rich harmonies and intricate moving lines. This unaccompanied motet by the Renaissance English composer was followed by a work from another great English composer, Vaughan Williams. His ‘Serenade to Music’ brought in the Todmorden Orchestra to accompany the choir.

The sumptuous sound of the orchestra, featuring lovely solo lines threaded through the texture – a special mention here for the cor anglais playing – was matched by the quartet of soloists. Jacqueline White’s clear toned soprano sound was a perfect foil for the rich voluptuousness of the voice of the mezzo, Emily Reaves. In this piece the sound of the male soloists was occasionally covered by the orchestra, but there were sufficient moments to relish in the lyrical sound of Oliver Marshall, tenor, and the authoritative delivery of David Heathcote, baritone.

Double bass soloist Cecelia Bruggemeyer gave an enchanting and highly musical performance of Dittersdorf’s Concerto for Double Bass to close the first half. Cecelia played with sparkle and poise, and the Todmorden Orchestra responded with verve and precision.

After the interval, we began with another unaccompanied work, ‘Judge Me, O God’ by Mendelssohn. The striking opening by the male half of the chorus demonstrated the full-blooded yet controlled tone that the conductor was able to draw from the choir. This was an inspiring and committed performance that showed both technical skill in the singing, and musicality in the delivery.

The final item of the concert welcomed back the four solo singers for Haydn’s ‘Maria Theresa’ mass. An intense and demanding work was sustained through its sections, taken from the Latin mass, and allowed the blend of voices between soloists, choir and orchestra to express the composer’s spirituality and to give a suitably rousing end to the concert.