<< -- 2 -- David Thompson WARMTH AND SPONTANEITY
I think that Sir Andrew himself would concede that he was blessed with something of a dream-team on the night, and given a wonderfully clear but warm acoustic to enhance the sounds they made. Louise Winter's Mary was radiantly lovely in this setting. Her eager assumption of the grateful-sounding melodic lines was, perhaps the highlight of the solo singing. Her co-protagonists were no less distinguished, however. Mark Padmore made a fine narrator, and assumed the small dramatic role of Centurion with skill and insight. Peter Rose, who had the unenviable task of assuming the schizophrenic demands of the 'baddie' Herod in Part 1 and the 'goodie' Father of the Family in Part 3, managed to convince in both, and David Wilson-Johnson is simply peerless in this repertoire.
The Choral singing was as close to perfection as it is reasonable to hope for. The BBC Symphony Chorus, celebrating their Seventy Fifth Anniversary Season, excelled themselves, abetted by the Trinity College Chamber Choir. The sheer beauty of sound, was often heart-stopping in the Cathedral's grateful ambience, especially when Berlioz' demand to sing pppp (pianissimo and then some) was so magically met in the final stanza of the 'Shepherds' Farewell'.
The BBC's flagship Orchestra was, of course, fully worthy of all this. There was a warmth and spontaneity in their committed advocacy. The heavenly 'house chamber music' of the Part 3 Trio was ravishingly lovely.
An auspicious evening indeed, and a wonderful prelude to the Christmas season. If this L'enfance was not a deeply religious experience, it was a profoundly musical one, and I was grateful to have been one of the packed house privileged to have witnessed something rather special. Now I shall firm up the theology with a couple of hours of those wondrous trumpets and drums of Bach.