Portsmouth Festival Choir at Portsmouth Anglican Church

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It was back to the future for the choir that won the News Guide Award for classical music last month: back to the baroque era for its debut with new conductor Peter Allwood.

He certainly seemed at home in that era – establishing lithe rhythms and securing crisp attack in music by Handel, Purcell and Corelli.

The greatest pleasure was to be had in a Handel setting of the Gloria, believed to have been composed around 1707 but discovered only 10 years ago.

It is a richly florid piece for soprano and strings, and Natalie Clifton-Griffith was both accurate and colourful as soloist. In fact she was the pick of the five soloists throughout the programme.

Corelli’s Christmas Concerto highlighted the familiar talents of orchestra leader Kirstie Robertson, but Handel’s Zadok The Priest would have benefited from the extra drama provided by wind instruments.

In the same composer’s Dixit Dominus, the conductor’s capacity for drawing vivid word-colouring was particularly evident.

The choir’s next concert is on March 24 and features Mozart’s Mass in C minor.