Review: Exciting ensemble returns for St James’ latest concert

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SAINT JAMES’S SINGERS, ST MARY’S CHURCH, April 18

You can be sure of excitement when Julian Harris and team embark on Bach’s Mass in B Minor -a monumental work.

With Lucy Russell leading an exceptionally skilled group of players, the 50 St James’s Singers and four very capable soloists combined most effectively to produce a quite remarkable performance.

The movingly sung Agnus Dei (alto Alexandra Gibson singing second soprano) led to a fitting climax with a passionate delivery of Dona nobis pacem to bring a memorable evening to a close.

To perform such a monumental work requires an immense amount of planning, hard work, stage managing and programme planning.

This St James’s team never fails to meet its audience expectations and many in that team deserve huge praise.

With a full desk of ‘natural’ trumpeters, baroque horn, two oboe d’amore players and two baroque bassoon players and range of string players , it was up to the tireless Harris to lift his 50 singers to match the competence of soloists.

He duly eased them into the early Kyrie, building their confidence on the night to attack the Gratias.

Helen Neeves and Lucy Russell produced a beautifully delivered Laudamus te and worked well with Ed Harrison in Domine Deus. James Gower made a powerful contribution.

Harris maintained his enthusiasm for Bach’s writings, his enthusiasm for the fine delivery from his singers and his appreciation for the work of his players showed with the most exuberant of climaxes at the end of this monumental performance.

Rating 9/10

By Clive Peacock