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Radiantly Fresh

Emma Kirkby and the Derby Choral Union,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER


Mozart's Solemn Vespers for the Feast of a Confessor is probably the second most popular of his large-scale sacred pieces after the Requiem. This is due mainly to the lovely setting of the psalm Laudate Dominum, one of his most inspired pieces of writing for vocal soloist. Put it together with the voice of Emma Kirkby, still radiantly fresh after all these years, and you've got a sure-fire success on your hands. So it was on this occasion (Pears School, Repton, Derbyshire, UK, 11 March 2006).

It also drew the best singing of the evening from the Choral Union, bold and confident in the opening of the Confiteor Tibi and in the final Magnificat. Amanda Pyke, Gareth Malone and Richard Latham joined Emma Kirkby in a well-matched solo ensemble.

In Haydn's delightful little Salve Regina, Kirkby's voice soared and dipped gracefully, very competently supported by Repton School Chamber Choir.

Rutter's Magnificat, in the first half, found the Choral Union rather more stretched. It's not my cup of milk and water in any case, and only Kirkby's deliciously floated top notes relieved the tedium of the interminable setting of the Et Misericordia.

The unexpectedly dry acoustics of the Pears School did no-one any favours.

Copyright © 19 March 2006 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK




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