REVIEW: Portsmouth Baroque Choir at All Saints Church, Portsmouth

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Enter the Theatre of Fear for a triumphant homecoming

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A large audience turned out on Saturday night to hear Portsmouth’s Baroque Choir perform its Christmas set, and there were notable highlights.

Unfortunately, the first half was weighed down by the rambling Christmas Oratorio of Saint Saëns, which even the sure-footed accompaniment of the Dolce Quartet could do little bring to life.

However, after the interval the choir rose to the challenge of Britten’s Ceremony of Carols supported by the sparkling harp playing of Helen Arnolds.

The choir’s tight ensemble in This Little Babe and poised devotion in There Is No Rose matched reliable performances by the home-grown soloists.

Following this was more seasonal fare in the shape of congregational and choir-only carols, accompanied superbly by organist Peter Gould.

Of particular note was a fine account of the celebrated The Three Kings, with an assured baritone solo by Iain Renfrew.

It felt odd to finish the evening with a massed performance of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.

However uplifting, it left the audience with little to do but go home with just token applause. The choir deserved more for their hard work.

The baroque choir’s next concert is on March 25, 2017, at the Church of the Resurrection on Brecon Avenue.

PETER RHODES