The following review of the 3rd December concert was prepared by Keith Nixon for inclusion in the Sunderland Echo but is reproduced here with his kind permission.
The Bishopwearmouth Choral Society’s traditional December concert proved to be the perfect early Christmas present for an enthusiastic and appreciative audience.
Conductor David Murray chose an all-Beethoven programme: a popular overture and two rarely-heard choral pieces. It proved to be an inspired choice. Beethoven may not be so well-known as a composer of choral music but this concert by Murray’s terrific group of singers demonstrated that anything a musical genius puts his hand to will always reward the listener.
The concert began with a performance of the Coriolan Overture. The grandeur and tragic heroism of the piece were movingly conveyed by the orchestra and it proved to be the perfect introduction to the concert.
The Mass in C suffers in comparison with its more well-known counterpart, the Missa Solemnis, but it is a great work in its own right. The unaccompanied opening of the Kyrie, the ecstatic joy of the Gloria and the poignancy of the Miserere arestern tests for any choir – Murray’s singers passed with flying colours.
The soloists (Katherine Moore, Sara Parry, Edward Lee and Martin Robson) were excellent throughout. They displayed a genuine sense of teamwork and clearly enjoyed singing unfamiliar repertoire.
Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, which brought the concert to a rousing conclusion, is a bit of a highbrow hybrid – part sonata, part concerto and part chorus. The testing piano part was superbly played by Eileen Bown with a fantastic display of virtuosity which was simply stunning. The orchestra, especially the woodwind and horns, played with great feeling but it was the choir which really
delighted the audience. The warm applause that followed the exciting finale to the piece was richly deserved.
The Bishopwearmouth Choral Society continues to be a musical beacon in Sunderland and this concert was a shining example of de-light.