For their contribution to Chichester Festivities, the St Richard Singers presented A Royal Summer, a concert of music mainly associated with Coronations.
Parry’s I Was Glad provided a stirring opening item and here the singers produced a vigorous and surprisingly large sound, with climactic high notes well taken, though I found the slower, central section less convincing.
In Purcell’s Come, Ye Sons of Art they were joined by the Noviomagus Ensemble and at first I was struck by the good balance between trumpets and the small number of string players. However, the brass were almost always too loud once the choir began singing – and this remained an issue through much of the concert. Soprano Natasha Page produced well-articulated florid lines in Bid the Virtue, Tim Hicks was the sonorous bass and I enjoyed the neatly ornamented counter-tenor duet Sound the Trumpet, sung by George Haynes and Jake Barlow.
Much of this concert’s success was due to clear, unfussy direction by conductor Jake Barlow. His firm control over proceedings was particularly evident in Handel’s four Coronation Anthems, with well-chosen tempi allowing his singers to negotiate Handel’s semiquavers with ease. Once again the choir’s contribution was full-bodied and confident. There were stylish moments too, hemiolas were nicely sprung and cadential trills well executed. In the more reflective moments there was expressive legato singing – I particularly enjoyed the nicely blended passage of thirds for altos and tenors at ‘exceeding glad’.
This concert was deservedly attended by a large and enthusiastic audience.