<< -- 3 -- Rosie and Nick Evelegh A THRILLING PERFORMANCE
Cooke's overlapping of solo, ensemble and full chorus passages worked wondrously well: no clumsy gaps and hesitations, or slight miscalculations, but rather a lovely, seamless flow of sensual sound. Elgar's touching final chorus, 'Give us one heart and one way; in Thy light shall we see light,' the beautifully extended passage, 20 pages of vocal score, in which the whole work culminates, wrapped around by divisi choir's heavenly alleluias, simply shone. It includes the words 'What are these wounds in thine hands?' 'Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends' -- the passage from Zechariah which, Moore points out, Elgar stumbled across at Queenhill Church, a once-silent haven he lit on from Longdon, although it is now perched above the present-day M50 motorway.
Both the Angel and, subsequently, the Virgin Mary, were sung by Anna Leese, a lovely young singer. At only 23 she already produces a pure clear sound which soared above the orchestra, refusing to be overpowered. Likewise at the very end of the section 'Golgotha' her singing of 'the sword hath pierced through mine own soul' was utterly beautiful and moving.
Louise Poole showed a markedly strong and engaging personality as Mary Magdalene, seemed profoundly involved in the performance and had several great moments -- particularly the passage 'Thy face, Lord, will I seek', late in the section 'By the sea of Galilee'.
Jesus was sung by Roderick Williams, a fantastically fine singer with a particularly lovely voice, great presence and exquisite diction -- you could hear every word, as he and Richard Cooke together subtly mastered Elgar's wonderful phrasing together. Jesus's exchanges with Mary, and her demure response in Capernaum, 'Hearken, O daughter; when thou art in tribulation', together with Williams's enraptured singing prior to the Ascension: 'Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you ... and lo, I am with you alway', supplied two of the evening's best moments.
Copyright © 3 March 2005
Rosie and Nick Evelegh, Kent UK