Review: Portsmouth Choral Union, St Mary’s Church, Portsmouth

Victor Ariat

Smooth sailing for Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at Portsmouth Guildhall

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Handel’s stirring Zadok The Priest was the first item in Saturday’s concert given by Portsmouth Choral Union.

They were in fine voice here, and performing from memory meant that ensemble with brass and organ was crisp and clear. Perhaps the most interesting, and challenging item in their programme was Patterson’s The Fifth Continent.

Patterson writes thoughtfully in an idiom that is challenging without being prohibitively difficult for singers.

It begins, and ends, quietly with sustained writing for organ, offstage trumpets and a haunting countertenor solo.

In between, the music is, by turns, spirited, dramatic and evocative of Kent’s Romney Marsh, from which it derives inspiration.

Soloist, Joe Bolger, possesses a clear, sweet-toned voice, and delivered the text with great clarity and musicianship.

The choir sang with great confidence too, aided by David Gostick’s clear, alert direction.

They were accompanied by Daniel Cook, organ, and Southern Pro Musica Brass.

The balance between all performers was very good. Only once, at the start of the work’s second section, were the choir not clearly audible.

The climactic moments were handled dramatically and with full-bodied, thrilling singing.