The Haslemere Musical Society returned to its usual venue, Haslemere Hall, for its annual Christmas-themed concert after a 21-month hiatus due to Covid restrictions on Saturday, December 4.
An earlier concert, only for orchestra, had taken place in October of that year, but without the choir.
Haslemere Hall was filled with an audience eager for the resumption of normal musical activities so important this time of year, and they were not disappointed.
Although space was somewhat limited due to the placement of the socially distant orchestra, we were able to enjoy the full sound of over 40 musicians and the added benefit of a similarly sized choir to fill the hall. music.
The concert started cautiously with Rossini’s Overture to La Cenerentola (Cinderella), but as the tempo increased the full power and dynamics of the orchestra were apparent, especially when the first theme for strings entered the melee.
It is a superb piece to start any concert because it contains so many wonderful Rossini melodies.
The conductor, James Ross, then welcomed the audience and explained the ideas behind the opening work and the next element, Haydn’s Symphony No.101, “The Clock,” one of the symphonies Haydn brought to London in the 1790s.
It is a luminous, cheerful and melodic work full of good tunes and the “tic-tac” rhythm of the second movement, highlighted by the cellos and the pizzicato woodwinds, gives its title to the work.
The third movement, Minuetto-allegretto, was played with great fervor and was reminiscent of Womble’s pop hit in the 1970s, with a similar name.
After the intermission, it was the choir’s turn to join in the debates and we were treated to a melodious a capella song with the Dixit Maria by Hans Hassler (c.1564-1612).
It was the first of five short pieces through the centuries, including Ave Maria Stellis by Edvard Grieg (1843-1907), Exsulatate Justi by Lodovico Viadana (c.1569-1627), Unser Lieben Frauen Traum by Max Reger (1873- 1916)) and Johannes Brahms (1833-97) Geistliches Lied (Sacred Song).
The chorus was in a good voice throughout, although the prominence of the sopranos and the relatively small number of basses made the works sound brighter and less full-bodied than is usually the case.
A chamber music intermission allowed the audience to hear a wind ensemble arrangement of two movements from Dvorak’s Czech Suite, which were superbly performed by the orchestra’s wind section.
This work was dedicated to Anne Goldman (1938-2021), who played the clarinet in the HMS orchestra for a long time and organized its summer sessions.
Then we got to the real meat of the evening, the seasonal choirs of Handel’s wonderful oratorio, the Messiah. We have heard: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed; And He will cleanse the sons of Levi and finally, For a child is born to us.
It told us that Christmas is fast approaching and gave us the expected jubilant sound of the excellent and exciting work of Handel, who has been popular for 280 years.
The choir and orchestra gave their all and the audience was delighted; it really uplifted the mood on a dark and extremely cold night.
Amateur choirs love to sing these exceptional choirs of Handel’s most popular and performed work and the Musical Society choir made it obvious to all of us.
The following article was a treat. Local composer, Clive Osgood composed his Bee Carol, on a poem by Carol Ann Duffy, in 2018, for the BBC Radio 3 Carol competition.
Clive was present to accompany on the keyboard this beautiful seasonal work which was premiered during this concert.
The concert ended with Leopold Mozart’s Sleigh Ride (Schlittenfahrt) from his Divertimento in F for orchestra.
Completed with sleigh bells and a catchy tune, it ended the evening in a very successful way and was appreciated by all attendees and participants, sending us into the night, warm and satisfied.
The next HMS concert will take place on March 5, 2022 at Haslemere Hall.